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Importance of eating nutrient-rich foods

Sunday, April 19, 2009

To the Editor:

Although no single food or food group provides all the nutrients needed for good health, you may be interested to learn lean beef fits dietary recommendations while also providing valuable nutrients for kids' growing bodies. Just one serving of lean beef is a good or excellent source of nine essential nutrients: protein, zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6, iron and riboflavin.

It's important for children to eat nutrient-rich foods to keep them energized and attentive throughout the school day. Lean beef is a naturally rich source of several nutrients, including iron, zinc and vitamin B12, which play critical roles in cognitive development and functioning, and help kids remember what they learn at school each day.

Tweens are in a critical state of development and both extreme diets and the epidemic of obesity are leading health issues. Research has found there are a high percentage of girls who do not meet the needs for specific nutrients, such as iron and zinc, both vital to the development of this age group.

Beef's importance isn't exclusive to youth -- emerging research continues to suggest high-quality protein plays an increasingly important role in weight management, muscle development and maintenance and disease prevention, including sarcopenia and diabetes. Given these benefits, many researchers are rethinking current dietary recommendations for high-quality protein and focusing on achieving a level of protein intake to promote optimal health, not to simply meet needs to prevent protein deficiency.

This protein powerhouse can be enjoyed guilt-free. Calorie for calorie, beef is one of the most nutrient-rich foods, and 29 cuts of beef meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture's guidelines for lean. Per serving, these cuts have, on average, only one more gram of saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast.

Josh Butt

President of Clay Co. Beef Cattlemen's Association