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Tasty and healthy: Lean beef's secret to a happy heart

(BPT) - When you think about eating a heart-healthy diet, do you picture beef? Beef may not be a food that immediately comes to mind when you think heart health. However, lean beef is a nutrient-rich and flavorful food that supports a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.

Numerous research studies have shown that incorporating lean beef into a heart-healthy diet pattern can help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. In fact, research from Penn State University found that people who participated in the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) Study - who ate 4 to 5 ounces of lean beef each day as a part of a heart-healthy diet including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low and non-fat dairy - maintained healthy blood cholesterol levels.

People are more likely to maintain a healthy diet if it is satisfying and enjoyable, says Shalene H. McNeill, Ph.D., RDN, executive director of Nutrition Science, Health and Wellness at National Cattlemen's Beef Association - a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. 'The good news is you don't have to give up your favorite foods like beef. It's all about balance.'

In honor of American Hearth Month, McNeill has offered her top three tips and recipes for incorporating beef into your diet so you can support your heart health and your taste buds too.

1. Choose lean cuts

When shopping for beef, opt for the leanest cuts available. A good rule of thumb is to look for 'round' or 'loin,' like sirloin, tenderloin or eye round roast. These cuts typically have a lower fat content, making them heart-friendlier options that are equally tasty.

2. Employ heart-healthy cooking methods

The way we prepare our meals can significantly impact its nutritional value. Before cooking beef, trim any visible fat which also helps cut calories. Cooking techniques such as broiling, roasting or grilling are considered lower fat cooking methods because they don't require added fat for flavor.

3. Pair beef with fiber-rich sides

What you eat with beef is just as important as how you choose and prepare. Pair your main beef dish with other healthy foods like fiber-rich vegetables, fruits and whole grains for a well-rounded, tasty meal.

For example, toss a salad of spinach or your favorite crunchy greens or roasted colorful vegetables as a side for your sirloin steak. Or, slow roast an eye of round with peppers and carrots.

Need inspiration? Check out these three beef recipes that are Heart-Check certified by the American Heart Association.

Spicy Korean Beef & Cucumber Appetizers

Enjoy the spicy taste of Korean red chili sauce, savory herbed cream cheese and a delicious strip steak. Top with cucumber slices for a refreshing taste and satisfying crunch.

Roasted Sun-Dried Tomato Beef Tri-Tip with Peppers and Sweet Potatoes

This beef tri-tip roast is incredibly tender and flavorful on its own, but its taste is further enhanced when covered in a sauce of Italian dressing and sun-dried tomatoes. When you smell it roasting on top of a bed of sweet potatoes and red bell peppers, you'll be counting down the minutes until the dish comes out of the oven!

Beef Confetti Taco Salad

You don't have to wait until Taco Tuesday to eat this beef taco salad. Use your favorite taco ingredients like salsa, cheese, tomato, salad greens, bell peppers and onions and, of course, cooked ground beef, and savor the taste of a deconstructed taco. No taco shell needed!

Using these three tips, you can continue to enjoy the delicious taste of beef while supporting your heart health. For more heart-healthy recipes Heart-Check certified by the American Heart Association, visit

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