The Oxford Dictionary defines the word superfood as "a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being” and it’s a label people love to slap on all sorts of things these days. In most cases these so-called superfoods are justifiably nutritious and beneficial, but we’ve recently noticed a troubling trend in which people tend to only apply this badge of honor to items that are somewhat exotic to the standard western palette. Don’t get us wrong, we’re all about discovering and experimenting with new and interesting edibles (I’ll take a pomegranate martini over an apple any day of the week), but sometimes we forget that some of the super-est of the superfoods have been in our freezers or at our local grocery stores all along.
So, in that lovely (arguably atavistic) spirit, let’s take a minute and forget about the acai berry and the kale and the wheatgrass, and have a close look at that good ole dinnertime/barbecue favorite…STEAK!!!—an always-delectable treat that we feel is truly worthy of the loose and enigmatic term: superfood.
Don’t have faith in this scrumptious meat’s mystical powers? Give this a try:
Strand yourself and two other folks on a desert island (don’t ask how, just do it). Then give one person a huge wicker basket full of acai, let the other shelter up with thirty-seven pounds of kale, and furnish your tent with a battery powered freezer full of bone-in ribeyes; after that give it a week and see who’s faring best on the health front...
Fact is, from a micronutrient standpoint, steak offers a better return on your caloric investment than the vast majority of popular “superfoods”. Let’s talk a bit about why…
This essential mineral helps to carry oxygen to your brain and muscles, as well as serving as a crucial protein component for boosting metabolism and maintaining overall health. One three-ounce portion of lean beef (about the size of an iPhone) provides 12% of your recommended daily value of iron. That’s three times the amount found in a cup of spinach!
Tip: To reap the maximum benefits from the iron in your steak, serve it with a salad rich in vitamin-C (think strawberries or bell peppers). Reason being: Vitamin-C helps your body absorb the iron in your meat more efficiently.
This one’s sort of obvious. If you’re a person who works out on the reg (That’s right, I just used the term ‘on the reg’ in a supposedly educational food post. In case you’re not cool enough to know, ‘on the reg’ is how us hip folks say ‘regularly’) protein is essential in healing and rebuilding muscle as well as aiding in fat loss. Lean beef provides up to 25 grams of protein per three-ounce (iPhone sized) serving.
Zinc helps to fortify your immune system (a handy trait in and around flu season!). In addition, for women, it has been shown to alleviate the negative side effects of PMS. Just three-ounces of beef provides you with a third of your daily value of the big Z. You'd have to eat thirteen times that much salmon to get the same amount of zinc. That’s almost 40 ounces of fish!
Studies have shown a strong connection between B-vitamins and energy levels. Also known as micronutrients, these gangsters help convert proteins and carbohydrates into energy. Additionally they are used for cell repair and production. Researchers at Oregon State found that athletes who lacked B-vitamins displayed a noticeable reduction in peak performance and were less able to build or repair muscle than their peers who consumed B-vitamins ON THE REG (yep). Low on your B’s? Don’t fret. A serving of beef will provide 10 to 37you’re your recommended daily value.
Monounsaturated and Saturated Fats
Research shows that children with high levels of monounsaturated and saturated fat in their diets have healthier serum lipid profiles, meaning that they have less lipids (fats) in their blood. While this may seem counterintuitive, it shows that the human body actually evolved to process dietary fat in a positive way.
The popular Mediterranean Diet has been highly regarded as one of the best over the years, because people in these countries have a substantially lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers when compared to people who subsist on the traditional Western diet. What a lot of experts fail to point out is the high-fat content of many of the staple foods in the Mediterranean, but if you understand the true function of fats in the body it won’t come as a surprise that people in these countries yield healthier blood tests.
Produced naturally by your body, creatine is an amino acid—one of multiple compounds which basically serve as the bricks that build the protein house. Athletes and bodybuilders alike spend loads of cash buying creatine supplements to help improve athletic performance and build muscle mass. We, on the other hand, prefer to increase our creatine intake naturally by consuming creatine-rich foods. So forget about the chalk-flavored powder and the annoying conversation with the meathead GNC cashier who fancies himself the Steve Hawking of body chemistry. Fire up the grill, Chuck! Beef is the best source of this powerhouse amino.
So when it comes down to it, a nice steak might cost the health-conscious person a few extra calories (and the penny-conscious person a few extra dollars), but from a micronutrient and bang for your buck standpoint, it beats the mess out of a lot of “superfoods” every day of the week…and twice on Sunday, of course.
Tip: To cut down on cost, try to buy in bulk and take advantage of market sales as often as possible…or don’t…more for me!