chapter  16
10 Pages

The role of beef in human nutrition and health Chunbao Li, Nanjing Agricultural University, China

Beef is an important source of both macronutrients and micronutrients. The macronutrients include water, high-value protein and fat comprising saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. The micronutrients in beef and edible offal include haeme iron; zinc; selenium; and vitamins D, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxin) and B12 (cobalamin). All these nutrients play a critical role in human physiological functions and deficiencies in any of them can cause disorders or diseases. Nevertheless, concerns have been raised regarding the effect of red and processed meat intake on human health. Indeed, based on epidemiological studies, a working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the consumption of processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 1) (on the basis of sufficient evidence of an association with colorectal cancer), and further classified the consumption of red meat as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 2A).