By now you know that "good fats" and "good cholesterol" are among the most important (not to mention exciting) parts of a healthy diet, but bet you didn't realize that hunks of juicy, beefy brisket now count as health food too.
Yup, brisket is good for your heart. At least, that's what a new study claims. According to Texas A&M AgriLife research scientist Dr. Stephen Smith, eating brisket is a heart-smart choice because it contains high levels of oleic acid, and oleic acid increases levels of HDL (or good cholesterol). “Brisket has higher oleic acid than the flank or plate, which are the trims typically used to produce ground beef,” Smith said in his research findings.
“My universe evolves around oleic acid," Smith added. "It’s the most abundant fatty acid in beef. It’s also most abundant in canola oil and olive oil. When cattle are fed high-concentrated diets for a long period, the meat becomes high in oleic acid and other monounsaturated fats... The brisket has become one of the preferred trims to produce ground beef."
But hold on there a sec: We know Texas loves its beef, and Texas A&M is known for its agricultural program, so could this study be just a touch self-serving? We're hoping these findings have legs, but we asked around:
“Meat in general (including brisket) is good for us because of its proteins and fats,” Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN and author of the upcoming book Body Kindness, told The Feast.
Unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid have a number of health benefits, including the fact that they contribute to a feeling of fullness, which is important in preventing overeating. But Scritchfield cautioned: “It seems in the study he [Smith] is referring to the part of the animal used for brisket but refers to the ground beef version of it. That may make a difference in preparation: Grilling a hamburger from (ground-beef) brisket may have less of those charred/burnt pieces than smoking; the chars aren't that good for you,” she adds.
Upshot: Not all brisket is created equal.
Also, think about what you're pairing with the meat. “We don't need to make brisket a villain—I love beef—but it's not a health halo," adds Scritchfield. "When you eat, make sure you're hungry first, then balance your plate: 1/4 brisket, and aim for at least half veggies and fruits. For BBQ, slaw has cabbage, which is good for your gut microbiome, and corn is a BBQ staple,” says Scritchfield. But if you include starchy carbohydrates, she notes, pick between a palm-size piece of corn bread, or the bun, or pasta salad.
So yes, you can have your brisket and eat it too. But don't go crazy.
By the way, you can also find oleic acid in foods like olive oil, nuts and seeds. Not as tempting as that giant brisket special at the BBQ joint, perhaps, but there you have it.
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