Food Coach

Piedmontese beef's lower fat, cholesterol entices connoisseurs

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Some call it "skinny beef": It comes from a type of cattle bred for their prized, leaner meat. It's sought after by gourmets, and is pretty pricey, but is it really healthier?

Certified Piedmontese cattle raised in Nebraska are uniquely leaner than most.

"Flavorful was the most important, and then the best part: oh by the way, happens good for you," said Seasons 52 executive chef Clifford Pleau.

Pleau uses the grass-fed antibiotic-free beef on his menu for good reason.

"That meat is 25 percent to 30 percent less calories than regular beef, 25 to 30 percent less cholesterol than regular beef," said Pleau.

Originating from Italy, Piedmontese cattle are bred for their rare DNA. They lack a certain gene that results in fatty marbling, yet the meat remains tender.

"It's one of two cattle breeds that have a specific genetic trait. In a nutshell, it has less connective tissue, it's extremely healthy and it's got a fantastic flavor profile," said Billy Swain, sales manager for Great Plains Beef.

USDA-grade beef starts at Standard, Select Choice, then Prime. Prime is the the heaviest, the fattiest, and the most tender. Piedmontese beef can be as tender as Prime, but without all that fat.

In taste tests, Piedmontese sales representatives say their beef matched USDA Prime in most instances. But Piedmontese doesn't fall into the Prime category because beef grades are largely determined by intermuscular fat, which this animal lacks.

This meat is pricey, about $16 per pound for a strip steak. But many say the health benefits are worth it.

Compare 3 grams of fat for a serving of Piedmontese Top Sirloin to 10 grams of fat for USDA Prime.

USDA research shows a 3.5 ounce Piedmontese steak has 36 grams of cholesterol, versus 68 grams of cholesterol for a regular steak.

So while you'll spend more with a lower-cholesterol, higher omega-3 fat, lean protein profile, some feel you get more beef for your buck.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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