Wait a minute. Beef is OK to eat AND keep my heart healthy too? Yes, you read this correctly.

No longer “taboo” for healthy, active lifestyles, nutrient-rich lean beef such as top sirloin steak can be enjoyed again without guilt. In fact, top sirloin meets the American Heart Association certification as a lean cut of beef and heart-healthy choice. The AHA Heart-Check certification is one of the most trusted nutrition logos and claims on a food label.

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University reported results from the BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Diet) study showed adding a daily serving of nutrient-packed lean beef to a heart-healthy diet could lower the risk of heart disease by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

A three-ounce serving of lean sirloin (about the size of your smartphone) has about 150 calories plus the daily value of these nutrients:

• Protein – 38 percent (for muscle growth and repair).

• Vitamin B12 – 44 percent (important for brain health).

• Selenium – 40 percent (protects cells from damage.

• Zinc – 38 percent (strengthens the immune system).

According to research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, beef is the number-one source of protein, zinc and vitamin B12. It is the number-two source for selenium and number-three source for iron. Protein in beef promotes the feeling of satiety or fullness longer than simple carbohydrates. This means that, for people trying to curb their calories for weight loss, type II diabetes or other health reasons, eating a three-ounce serving of top sirloin not only provides important nutrients and energy, but it helps keep a person from feeling hungry for a longer period of time.

Here are some tips and reminders for preparing your delicious beef sirloin:

• It’s not necessary to bring beef to room temperature before cooking. This practice does not provide any flavor or cooking advantage. For food safety reasons, it’s best to cook meat straight from the refrigerator to keep bacteria levels at a minimum.

• When stir-frying sirloin, partially freeze the steak prior to preparation. It will slice easier into thin, equal-thickness strips.

• Pat steaks dry with paper towels before pan-searing to get better browning that seals in the juices. When grilling or broiling, use tongs rather than a meat fork. The fork tines will pierce the steak, causing the flavorful juices to seep out while tongs will not cause this.

Many recipes using sirloin steak are quick and easy. The following recipe takes less than 30 to 35 minutes to prepare. Enjoy the powerful health benefits of lean beef!

Beef Pepper Steak

Servings: 4

From Hy-Vee Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 lbs. top sirloin steak or top round steak, trimmed, sliced 3/4-inch-thick*

½ c. light Italian salad dressing, divided

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 large bell peppers, any color, cut into ⅛-inch strips

1 medium yellow or white onion, cut into ⅛-inch wedges

Directions:

1. Cut beef lengthwise in half, then crosswise into ⅛-inch thick strips. Place beef and ⅓ cup light Italian dressing in food-safe plastic bag; turn beef to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Reserve remaining dressing for the vegetables.

2. Remove beef from marinade; discard marinade.

3. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of beef; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or just until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. (Do not overcook.) Remove meat from skillet onto plate; repeat with remaining beef strips. Season beef with salt and pepper; keep warm. Wipe skillet with paper towel if desired.

4. Heat remaining Italian dressing in same skillet until hot. Add bell peppers and onion. Stir-fry 5 to 6 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Return beef and juices to skillet. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.

*flank steak works well also.

Nutrition facts per serving:

Calories: 240

Total Fat: 10g

Saturated Fat: 3g

Cholesterol: 69mg

Sodium: 260mg

Total Carbohydrates: 9g

Dietary Fiber: 2g

Protein: 27g

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location. The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.