Why Is Beef Good For You?

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Beef Provides a Large Source of L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in meat products.

In the table below, we can see the L-carnitine content of beef compared to some other animal foods and plant foods (1);

Why is L-Carnitine Important?

Among other functions, L-carnitine plays a part in fat metabolism.

L-Carnitine helps with this by delivering fats to our mitochondria for burning.

It’s critical to emphasize that L-carnitine is a non-essential amino acid because our bodies can produce enough of it to meet our daily needs.

The body synthesizes L-Carnitine within the liver and the process relies on the amino acids L-lysine and L-methionine (2).

As a result, deficiencies are rare.

However, research indicates that increasing the amount of L-Carnitine in your diet may benefit your health in some ways.

Various studies show the following findings;

Heart Health

According to a meta-analysis of randomized trials, L-carnitine enhances patient outcomes. It specifically affects oxidative stress, nitric oxide, inflammation, and hypertension.

A further systematic review found that L-carnitine is associated with a 27% reduction in all-cause mortality in heart failure patients (3, 4).


A systematic review shows that higher L-carnitine intake in type 2 diabetes patients improves fasting glucose levels and the overall cholesterol profile (5).

Weight Loss

According to a systematic review and meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials, subjects using L-carnitine supplementation lost “significantly more weight” than the control group (6).

Though there are many L-carnitine supplements available, their absorption rates are inferior to those of beef.

In fact, our body only absorbs around 14-18% of the synthetic form of the nutrient (7).

Important Point: Beef naturally contains the amino acid L-carnitine. It has a positive impact on various health markers.

Beef Provides the “Master Antioxidant” Glutathione

Commonly known as the ‘master antioxidant,’ glutathione has a score of research linking it to (8);

  • Anti-aging benefits
  • Increasing longevity
  • Preventing illness
  • Reducing the risk of chronic disease
  • Strengthening the immune system

It assists in preventing cellular damage, which can result in many chronic diseases, in all of the body’s cells.

On the other hand, a deficiency in glutathione contributes to oxidative stress and inflammation (9).

Therefore, maintaining high glutathione levels is crucial for maintaining our general health.

The question then becomes, “How can we maintain high glutathione levels?”

Endogenous Glutathione Production and Dietary Sources

First of all, our body produces glutathione endogenously.

To put it another way, glutathione is created by our body from raw materials, in this case, amino acids.

For this process to occur, we should have adequate levels of the amino acids cysteine, glutamate, and glycine (10).

Each of these amino acids, which are known as glutathione precursors, is found in beef.

On the plus side, beef has a respectable amount of dietary glutathione that has already been fully formed.

Key Takeaway: Maintaining high glutathione levels is essential for good health, and beef is a food that can help us do so. More effectively than any “detox plan” or supplement, glutathione helps our bodies detox.

Beef is High in Protein and Helps Improve Muscle Mass

There are many reasons why we should make an effort to consume enough protein, some of which are as follows:

  • Our body uses protein as a structural component to maintain and create bone, skin, and cartilage.
  • Enough protein aids in the development and maintenance of lean muscle mass.
  • Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and it reduces food cravings.

One of the main sources of protein in the human diet, beef is brimming with amino acids that promote health.

For instance, a 6oz (170g) portion of 80% lean beef provides 46g protein

Should we opt for a leaner variety of beef, the protein content can be even higher (11).

The Importance of Lean Mass

Building—or at least retaining—lean mass should be a top priority as we age.

According to research, older adults with less muscle mass have a higher risk of dying.

Speaking bluntly, the more skeletal muscle mass someone loses as they age, the higher their risk of an earlier death (12).

Also, the rate of muscle protein synthesis rapidly drops as we age, making it a lot harder to build and maintain muscle (13).

Given this, we should make sure we’re eating enough protein, which is particularly important for seniors.

In this regard, beef is among the best sources of protein available.

The importance of protein for good health, especially as we age, cannot be overstated. Beef provides an abundant amount of this macronutrient.

Beef is Extremely Rich in Minerals

Beef is one of the best foods to choose if you want to increase your intake of different minerals.

First of all, beef is relatively nutrient-dense in minerals.

Here we can see the mineral content of 80% lean beef (11);

The table demonstrates that beef offers more than half of the daily recommended intake of zinc and selenium.

Many people have deficiency issues with some of these minerals.

So, the nutritional value of beef can help fight prevalent global deficiencies in iron, magnesium, and zinc (14, 15, 16).

Important Point: Minerals like iron, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc are abundant in beef.

Eating Beef Helps Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia

The previous point touched on mineral deficiencies, but iron deficiency anemia merits a separate mention.

Sadly, there is an increasing global epidemic of iron deficiency anemia.

Nutrient deficiencies shouldn’t be a cause of death in a developed nation like the United States, but anemia kills thousands of people every year.

To be exact, the latest release of statistics showed that Anemia hospitalized 146,000 Americans in one year. 5,219 of these people died (17).

Globally it’s even worse, and according to the World Health Organization, 1.62 billion people suffer from iron deficiency anemia (18).

Heme and Non-Heme Iron

Heme and non-heme iron are the two types of iron that can be found in food.

  • Heme Iron: Meat and other animal foods are the only sources of heme iron, which is the most bioavailable form of iron.
  • Non-Heme Iron: Plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, and nuts contain non-heme iron. Our body finds it more challenging to absorb non-heme iron in comparison to heme iron.

Because it has a significant amount of heme iron, beef meat has many health benefits.

The best source of all? Beef liver.

Interestingly, anemia disproportionately affects females. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given how society seems to stigmatize women who consume meat.

It’s quite common to see women eating salads while grinning.

The main idea is to consume more beef to prevent anemia due to a lack of iron.

Beef Contains Carnosine, a Potent Amino Acid

Another benefit of beef is that it contains a lot of carnosine.

An amino acid called carnosine (beta-analyl-L-histidine) is present in every cell of the body and plays a number of crucial roles in maintaining human health.

As beef is one of the highest sources of carnosine (containing about 50% more than poultry), this is another health benefit

What Does Carnosine Do?

For one thing, carnosine has anti-glycosylation properties.

Carnosine specifically lessens the negative effects of a process known as “glycation” that involves advanced glycation end-products (AGES).

Glycation is central to the aging process and progressively damages our body, potentially leading to atherosclerosis and various other chronic diseases (19, 20).

Additionally, carnosine helps boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. The amino acid is also thought to help prevent lipid peroxidation within our cells (21, 22).

The best dietary source of carnosine is beef (and red meat in general), which is a protein.

Beef is Full of Vitamins

There are many important nutrients in beef, and those present in significant amounts include the range of B vitamins (11);

In addition, beef has minor amounts of vitamins E and K.

Because it can only be obtained from animal foods, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a particularly essential nutrient.

This vitamin also has a wealth of benefits that include skin improvements, positive mood, better sleep, and neural regeneration (23, 24).

It’s important to realize that insufficient vitamin B12 may also increase the risk of depression and mental health issues (25, 26).

Fortunately, a 6oz serving of beef provides almost 100% of the recommended amount of B12

Vegetarians and vegans should take vitamin B12 supplements as they are most susceptible to deficiency in this vitamin.

The importance of beef’s high B vitamin content for health promotion Given that it is absent from plant-based foods, vitamin B12 is especially crucial.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

Conjugated linoleic acid, also referred to as CLA, is an organic trans-fat.

Don’t worry; despite the name being a little frightening, “trans-fat” has a very different impact than its synthetic counterpart.

Randomized controlled studies involving human participants suggest that;

  • Conjugated linoleic acid helps to improve insulin sensitivity (30)
  • CLA appears to promote fat loss (31, 32)

Notably, the bulk of the evidence suggests that getting CLA from real food is better than supplementation (33).

Perhaps nutrients found in whole foods have a different impact than those found in artificial pills, as is typically the case?

Food Sources of CLA

The top sources of CLA include meat and dairy products.

Beef is the next best source of the nutrient after lamb and some cheeses.

Although all beef contains CLA, meat fed with grass or quality hay offers a significantly higher amount of CLA than meat from non-ruminants.

Particularly, grass-fed beef contains 0 on average CLA. 46% of the fat content.

With grain-fed beef, this average content drops to 0.16% of fat (34).

Important Point: One of the best sources of conjugated linoleic acid is beef, especially that from cows that are fed only grass.

Beef Contains the Performance Enhancer Creatine

Did you know that beef contains creatine as well? Nearly everyone is familiar with the form of creatine found in dietary supplements.

In fact, beef typically contains 350mg creatine per 100g (35).

The health benefits that creatine bring include;

  • Improved exercise performance
  • Creatine assists in muscle growth and development
  • Provides muscles with greater energy supply and improves endurance
  • Increased muscular size

It’s also important to remember that, if the precursors are available, our liver can produce about 2g of creatine per day.

Creatine precursors include arginine, glycine, and methionine (36).

Beef is not only one of the most important dietary sources of all of these amino acids, it also contains all of them.

In other words, eating beef helps your body produce creatine and provides you with a sufficient amount of dietary creatine.

Key Point: Beef has two positive impacts on creatine levels. First, it gives it directly to the body, and second, it aids in the body’s production of it.

Beef is Very Affordable

We might hear complaints about how expensive beef is compared to other plant-based foods and vegetables.

For some reason, these claims often compare broccoli to beef.

However, these calculations are a little disingenuous. Yes, broccoli is significantly less expensive per 100g than beef.

But just how much energy does 100g provide?

200g of beef will typically provide around 550 calories, but 200g of broccoli only contains 70 calories (11, 37).

As a result, beef has eight times more energy per 100g than broccoli.

It follows that beef is significantly less expensive per calorie than broccoli and probably every other vegetable.

Point to Remember: Beef is more cost-effective per calorie than vegetables.

1 Beef is Very Simple to Make

Although not specifically a health benefit, this one might be if it promotes more home cooking.

Beef is a straightforward food to cook. It requires no lengthy recipe or complex preparation procedures.

Place it in the oven, season it with salt, and bake it until done.

A traditional beef and vegetable dinner is very quick and easy to prepare in this age where people claim they don’t have time to cook.

Important Point: Beef cooks quickly and easily with little preparation.

Numerous nutrients that are good for our health can be found in beef.

There are other foods that do provide some of the same benefits, but not to the same degree.

Overall, it is one of the human diet’s most nutrient-dense foods.

Bottom line: there are many health benefits of eating beef.

This article was originally published on Michael Joseph’s Nutrition Advance website and is republished here with his permission. Michael Joseph is a US nutritionist who holds a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition Education. To visit his website click here Get

New studies show red meat is not harmful


Is beef the healthiest meat?

Red meat may raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease because it typically contains more saturated fat than poultry, fish, and vegetarian sources of protein. However, beef also contains nutrients like iron, zinc, niacin, choline, and vitamin B12 in addition to high-quality protein.

Is beef good for your body?

Our body uses protein as a building block to repair and create bone, skin, and cartilage. Beef is high in protein and aids in increasing muscle mass. Enough protein aids in the development and maintenance of lean muscle mass. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and it reduces food cravings.

What is the healthiest meat to eat?

The List: Top 5 Healthiest Meats, According To ExpertsChicken Breast. You probably guessed this one. Turkey Breast. It’s not just for Thanksgiving. Beef. Red meat is still packed with healthy proteins and nutrients, even though the majority of medical professionals and nutritionists advise against eating too much of it. Fish. Bison.

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