Considering its reputation, you might be surprised to learn that steak is one of the most nutritious and wholesome foods you can eat. It’s packed with protein, iron, and zinc – essential nutrients few of us get enough of.
But because it’s also high in saturated fats and a red-hot source of cholesterol, eating steak has long been viewed as a guilty pleasure. Or so we thought that our understanding of steak nutrition was heavily skewed until recently.
The traditional view held that steak is unhealthy red meat. As such, for decades, health authorities have advised limiting consumption to no more than once a week or even once a month.
Why has steak nutrition been misunderstood?
Steak has been unfairly demonized for decades. It’s widely believed that heart disease is responsible for the lion’s share of related deaths in western countries – and that eating steak regularly can significantly increase your risk of succumbing to this age-related condition.
So it’s not surprising that health authorities have long advised limiting your intake of red meat (and other high-fat animal proteins like pork and lamb) to reduce this risk.
But a few years ago, new research threw this view into doubt. Several large-scale studies found no connection between eating red meat and heart disease. And while there’s no denying that too much red meat is still rotten for you, most steak nutrition experts now say that the occasional portion of lean, unprocessed red meat is a healthy part of a balanced diet.
The healthiest cuts of steak are made up mostly of protein and iron. Protein is a crucial part of every human cell and is vital for growth and proper functioning.
Iron is necessary for making new red blood cells and helping us to stay healthy. We need it to keep our immune systems strong, break down carbohydrates, and maintain healthy hormone levels.
Cuts of steak can also provide a good source of zinc. A mineral essential for growth and the immune system, it’s needed to grow and repair tissues.
Studies have also shown that zinc can lower cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular diseases. Much of the iron and zinc in steak is bound to protein, making it much easier to absorb than the minerals in vegetables.
Beef also provides zinc, Vitamin B12, and creatine.
Steak also contains nutrients that are not essential for health but can significantly improve quality of life. A good source of Vitamin B12 can help keep the nervous system healthy and prevent anemia.
Studies have also indicated that Vitamin B12 can lower the risk of heart disease. Steak can also provide a source of creatine. A naturally occurring amino acid, it’s used by muscles to create energy.
Consuming creatine can improve athletic performance and enhance brain function. Steak also contains a decent amount of the amino acid tryptophan. Another amino acid, tyrosine, is made into dopamine, which makes us happy.
Saturated fat in beef isn’t all bad.
Reducing saturated fat has long been a vital part of a healthy diet. And indeed, overeating of it can lead to heart disease and other diseases. However, a recent study has shown that lean, unprocessed red meat contains a healthy amount of saturated fat.
As such, the fat in steak is unlikely to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Indeed, steak is an excellent source of protein and iron – both of which contain iron and zinc and are necessary for growth and proper functioning.
It’s also important to note that unprocessed red meat is rich in B vitamins and creatine. Steak also contains a decent amount of the amino acid tryptophan. Another amino acid, tyrosine, is made into dopamine, which makes us happy.
How to make your steak even more nutritious
You can do a straightforward thing to make your steak more nutritious. Cook it the right way. A steak grilled or roasted to perfection is both delicious and healthy.
But one that’s been seared to a crisp on a hot pan is not. It is particularly true if you use high heat.
Steaks that’s been cooked over high heat will release a large number of carcinogens into the air. These volatile compounds are toxic and can cause damage to DNA, which over time, can lead to the formation of tumors.
On the other hand, steak cooked on low to medium heat will remain relatively free of carcinogens. It will also retain more nutrients, including iron and zinc – which the body will more readily absorb.
Steak is a delicious, nutritious food that has been unfairly demonized for decades. It’s long been viewed as an unhealthy source of saturated fats and cholesterol.
However, new research has shown that this isn’t true. Indeed, steak is packed with protein, iron, zinc, and other essential nutrients.
It’s also a good source of Vitamin B12, creatine, and tryptophan amino acid. The only thing you have to remember when eating the steak is to avoid overcooking it.