Beef often gets a bad rap, but is it really that bad for you?

Here’s the problem: Most cuts of beef tend to be high in the wrong kind of fat. Ironically, though, that saturated fat you see surrounding your favorite cut or those white streaks running through it is exactly what makes beef juicy. But there are tasty ways to get beef’s protein and other nutrients, such as vitamins B3 and B12 and the minerals iron and zinc, without a sat-fat overload.

Choose leaner cuts like flank steak, filet mignon and beef stew cubes. Consider grass-fed beef, which tends to be higher in the better-for-you omega-3 fatty acids than the omega-6 fatty acids in grain-fed beef.

How you cook beef matters, too. Cooking marbled meat on a rack in the oven or on the grill will allow much of the fat to drain away as it cooks. And watch your portion sizes. Aim for just four ounces of beef per week, or one serving.

To fast-cook a lean filet without drying it out, season it with a little salt and pepper, and sear in a small amount of a high smoke-point oil (like safflower) over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and cook for about eight to 10 minutes, turning once or twice.

Looking for a tasty way to cook a less expensive cut? Try this recipe for a tender stew.

Savory Beef Stew

  • 1 pound beef cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon each sweet paprika and salt
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef stock
  • 1 pound carrots, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered

Season beef cubes with paprika and salt, and coat with flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and, when it’s hot, sear the beef, turning the cubes to brown each side.

Add the beef stock and vegetables and cook over low heat for about 90 minutes, until tender. (For easier preparation, you can also let this simmer in a slow-cooker.)

Yield: 4 servings

There’s no need to take red meat off the menu when you choose the right beef entrees.

More information

Get the facts about the different grades of beef on the USDA website.