Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. Beef muscle meat can be cut into steak, roasts or short ribs. Some cuts are processed (corned beef or beef jerky), and trimmings, usually mixed with meat from older, leaner cattle, are ground, minced or used in sausages. The blood is used in some varieties of blood sausage. Other parts that are eaten include the oxtail, liver, tongue, tripe from the reticulum or rumen, glands (particularly the pancreas and thymus, referred to as sweetbread), the heart, the brain (although forbidden where there is a danger of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE), the liver, the kidneys, and the tender testicles of the bull (known in the US as calf fries, prairie oysters, or Rocky Mountain oysters). Some intestines are cooked and eaten as-is, but are more often cleaned and used as natural sausage casings. The bones are used for making beef stock.
Beef is the third most widely consumed meat in the world, accounting for about 25% of meat production worldwide, after pork and poultry at 38% and 30% respectively.
The benefits of eating beef include:
- Lean beef is a very good source of protein, providing 64.1% of the daily value of the nutrient, in just 4 ounces.
- It serves as a good source of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, needed by the body to convert the potentially dangerous chemical homocysteine to benign molecules.
- Diets high in vitamin B12-rich foods, but low in fat are associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
- Organic beef is a good source of selenium and zinc. The selenium present in lean beef is needed for the proper function of glutathione peroxidase, an antioxidant that reduces the severity of inflammatory conditions like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Lean beef is a good source of zinc, which is helpful for preventing the damage to blood vessel walls, which can contribute to atherosclerosis and is also needed for the proper functioning of immune system.
- Grass-fed beef is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to reduce risk of heart disease. It does not raise total blood cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels as well.
- 3-ounce serving of lean beef is an excellent source of protein, zinc, and B-complex vitamins.Protein helps in building a strong and muscular body, while zinc helps create a healthy immune system and heal wounds.
- Beef is rich in phosphorous and iron. Phosphorous is necessary for strong teeth and bones and Iron helps carry oxygen in the blood, to all cells and muscles and prevents fatigue.