Although beef is a good source of protein and micronutrients, including iron and vitamin B-12, eating beef does have some potential drawbacks when it comes to your health. The more beef you eat, the more you'll raise your risk for certain health conditions and, if you don't take proper precautions, you may also put yourself at risk for foodborne illnesses. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up beef, but you may want to consider eating it less often.
Beef Nutrition Drawbacks
Beef can be high in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, so it can increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems. Eat just one 3-ounce serving of roasted, large end rib roast, which is about the size of a deck of cards, and you'll consume 300 calories, 37 percent of the daily value for total fat, 48 percent of the DV for saturated fat and 24 percent of the DV for cholesterol. Other cuts to avoid include braised chuck blade roast, braised whole brisket and braised chuck end pot roast. Choose a serving of roasted eye round steak instead because it only has 170 calories, 12 percent of the DV for fat, 15 percent of the DV for saturated fat and 23 percent of the DV for cholesterol.
Potential Health Risks
Both processed and unprocessed red meat can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in "Current Atherosclerosis Reports" in December 2012. Another study, published in "Archives of Internal Medicine" in April 2012, examined more than 37,000 people who were tracked for 22 years. They found that those in this group who ate higher amounts of red meat were more likely to develop cancer or heart disease. The authors noted that if participants had cut back on red meat, eating no more than about 1.5 ounces each day, it might have reduced deaths by more than 9 percent for men and 7 percent for women.
Beef Safety Issues
Beef can be contaminated with organisms that cause foodborne illnesses, including salmonella, Escherichia coli, Listeria and Staphylococcus aureus. Handling your beef properly and cooking it thoroughly can minimize this risk. Thaw frozen beef in the refrigerator or by using the microwave on a low setting; don't leave it out on the counter. Steaks and roasts should be cooked to a final temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and ground beef or organ meats should be cooked to at least 160 degrees. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking to keep them safe until you reheat them.
Minimizing the Risks of Eating Beef
Eat other forms of protein more often, perhaps having only one 3-ounce serving of beef every other day. When you do have beef, choose one of the leaner cuts, which include flank steak and cuts including "loin" or "round" in the name, recommends the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Even better, consider purchasing grass-fed beef. An article published in "Mother Earth News" in December 2013 notes that this type of beef has less total fat and more of the B vitamins, vitamin E, lutein, beta-carotene and omega-3 fats than conventionally fed beef.