When it comes to staying healthy, there is always a new piece of information, a new diet, or a new exercise fad that people are talking about. Obviously, we all want to stay as fit and healthy as possible – but it’s hard to make sense of things when the information is always changing.

Chocolate and red wine are great examples. One minute, we hear that they’re good for the heart. The next minute, we hear that one or the other is linked to certain illnesses. For a lot of people, the experience of a good piece of dark chocolate, or a nice glass of red wine, tips the scales in favor of the “healthy” argument.

Where does steak fit into this picture? There has been plenty of discussion on whether red meat is healthy, and if so, in what measure? Fortunately, we don’t have to guess at these questions – there is plenty of useful dialogue and information available.

One of the potential health benefits of lean beef (much like chocolate and red wine) is that it seems to have heart benefits. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people with diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains experienced lower levels of LDL cholesterol when they added around 5 ounces of lean beef to their diet every day. Some of the fats in beef (namely stearic acid and oleic acid) have been show to improve cholesterol levels.

Another potential health benefit of steak involves the mood-lifting benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. These chemicals appear to protect against depression and anxiety disorders, according to an Australian study. When participates in the study consumed 1-2 ounces of beef per day, their odds of developing depression or anxiety were much lower. It’s worth noting that grass-fed animals produce more of these helpful omega-3 fatty acids.

Let’s not forget that red meat (including beef, lamb and bison) is a great source of protein. There are also many other useful nutrients in a quality cut of beef, including iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12.

Now obviously – all good things should be enjoyed in moderation. Eating an over-abundance of steak can lead to certain health issues, but this is true for virtually any food. Red meat is a regular part of the diet for a large proportion Americans (and people the world over) who lead healthy and active lifestyles.

The trick may be – as your parents told you – to eat your vegetables. People are much more likely to reap the benefits of high quality red meat when they maintain a diet that’s high in veggies, fruits, and whole grains. If you keep up that side of things, and get plenty of exercise, your doctor is probably going to have a lot more positive things to say about your red meat intake.

Everybody is different, and various dietary choices can affect people in different ways – but one thing is for sure: it’s difficult to argue with the taste, flavor, and satisfaction of an expertly prepared cut from a reputable steakhouse!