andrew schneider investigates

May 1, 2008

Briskets are as good as olive oil

Filed under: Food - good, bad, weird,Good food,Random observations — Andrew Schneider @ 10:25

Researchers at Texas A&M university have reported that the vaunted beef brisket is the healthiest part of a cow and its fat is as healthy as olive oil.

The Aggie scientists, who have seldom been heard uttering a discouraging word on anything to do with cattle, say the brisket contains ‘depots’ or tiny reservoirs of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, according to a statement from Texas’ first public institution of higher learning,

The beef brisket is a unique hunk of meat. It holds a treasured place in the heart of most southern barbecue connoisseurs who will always make room for it in their smokers.

Brisket photo by Christopher Blank

But the inexpensive, boneless, cut of meat can be found slow cooking until tender in heavy pots and Dutch ovens throughout the country. Cured in a brine of salt and seasonings, it is the most popular cut for corned beef. Almost every ethnic group has its own recipes, seasoning and accompaniments for brisket, so what you do with it is limited only by your cleverness and taste buds.

And now Texans in white lab coats like Prof. Stephen Smith, a research meat scientist, and his grad student, Stacey Turk, tell us that brisket not only tastes great but is also good for us.

Smith says that oils like olive or canola are the best sources of monounsaturated fatty acids since they contain 70 percent to 80 percent oleic acid.

“However, the fat in beef brisket from corn-fed steers contains nearly 50 percent oleic acid, and oleic acid increases the longer cattle are fed a corn-based diet,” said the researchers.

Turk’s study could trigger a change in how meat processors view the brisket by offering a ground product that’s more nutritious than those found in retail grocery outlets today, the university said.

“We found the brisket to be the most healthful area of the carcass,” Turk said. “This would allow processors to place a premium on a “ground brisket” and market the product.”

That may be a difficult battle. The professor said he spoke to different meat producer groups, and “they don’t want to talk about fat in their product, and I can understand that.”

However, producers of Wagyu beef raised in Japan, U.S. or Australia aren’t afraid of the association with fat. Wagyu beef is known for its high marbling and monounsaturated fat.

“They’re not afraid of fat, and I hope the rest of the industry sees that,” Smith said.


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