Beef: Protein your staff of life


Our world is increasingly threatened by a global epidemic of chronic disease, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, arthritis and the list goes on and on. Approximately 35 million people die each year from these diseases. The tentacles of chronic disease seems to be extending across the globe and all population groups seem to be affected in one way or another although some to a lesser degree than others.

The question is why is the incidence of chronic disease increasing so rapidly, when man has not changed genetically in over 200 years or more. The answer lies in our environment and what we choose to eat. There is increasing evidence that indicates that these diseases are associated with poor lifestyle practices, stress, lack of physical exercise and over consumption of calorie dense foods rich in saturated fat, sugar and starch, but also the under-consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. The Centre for Disease Control in the United States of America indicates that the food consumption trend of the western diet shows a steady decline in the population’s intake of protein rich foods and the consumption of fat. There has been a steady increase in the consumption of carbohydrate rich foods (starchy foods and sugary foods) over the past 30 years. It is also interesting to note that as protein consumption has declined and been replaced by starchy and sugary foods so the incidence of disease has increased world-wide. It appears, that a low protein diet is not what we should be following if we wish to maintain our health and prevent disease.

Malnutrition diseases also span the globe and these too are exacerbated by very low protein intakes. Protein and energy malnutrition results in serious consequences of; stunted growth in children, fluid retention and/ or dehydration, wasting of muscle causing weakness, and wasting of essential body tissues and organs such as heart, lungs and the gastrointestinal tract. Malnutrition can also result in suppression of immune function and increases likelihood of infection. Beef is an excellent source of high quality protein and contains nine essential amino acids (protein building blocks), and contributes important vitamins, minerals and amino acids to the diet.

Whereas plant structures are primarily carbohydrate, the structure of humans and animals is built on protein. Proteins in muscles and body tissue are in constant turnover. New protein is required daily to maintain the body in a steady state. In today’s current economic climate, lean beef seems to be a cost-effective way of meeting your protein requirements. It seems time to haul out grandma’s old recipes and cook up a delicious beef stew packed with vegetable goodies, or perhaps make granddad’s favourite potjie or a good old-fashioned roast. Research is clearly showing us that including good quality protein foods is the right choice if we intend to preserve our health. Balanced against a healthy diet beef can help you meet all your protein requirements, lets get cooking with your favourite beef dish!

Anne Till, RD (SA)
Anne Till and Associates, RD’s (SA)