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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Eat North Dakota Beef; It's Good for You
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By John Finley

The Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center is seeking volunteers for a study of the benefits of consuming beef raised in special areas of our region. Living in North Dakota affords a healthy lifestyle in terms of the state's clean air, un-crowded cities, open landscapes, and healthy Dakota foods. But what is so special about Dakota-produced foods? It could be that if more people consumed some of our local specialties, they would cut their risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

North Dakota leads the nation in flaxseed production, which is important because flaxseed contains 'heart and brain healthy' omega-3 fatty acids. North Dakota also leads the nation in buckwheat production -- consumption of buckwheat might be beneficial for controlling diabetes. And the state produces large numbers of cattle, bison, and modest portions of lean red meats that are rich sources of protein and trace elements. Wheat is a staple of our agricultural economy - indeed nutritionists urge consumers to make whole-grains the largest part of their diet.

Work conducted at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center has shown that the uniqueness of North Dakota soils may alter some locally produced foods in a way that protects against cancer. A human cancer trial, first reported in 1996, found that consumption of 200 micrograms a day of a trace element called selenium dramatically reduced the rates of cancer in general, and specifically of prostate and colon cancers. This finding was considered so important that around the world, over 100,000 people are now involved in three multi-million dollar follow-up studies. Selenium only gets into foods that are grown on soils that contain selenium. Crops produced on some North Dakota soils are among the best sources of selenium of any foods from anywhere in the world.

At the Nutrition Center, we have been studying foods produced in the Dakotas that are rich in selenium. One of those foods is beef - a modest 100 gram portion of beef provides on average 22 micrograms of selenium, or less than ½ of the 55 microgram-per-day recommended allowance. However, an equal portion of beef raised in a high-selenium area of the Dakotas may provide as much as 200 micrograms of selenium, or the amount that has been proven to reduce cancer. So consuming Dakota beef may be a way of supporting the regional economy as well as combating cancer.

We are seeking healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 45. They must be nonsmokers and not be on any chronic medication other than birth control pills for women. If you are chosen for the study, you will eat foods that are provided by the nutrition center for 15 weeks. You will be free to continue your normal lifestyle except for consuming only our foods. Our foods are made from normal ingredients found at the local grocery store - the only special ingredient is our specialty-produced Dakota beef. The meals are carefully balanced to give you complete nutrition, and additionally they are always good!

Last Modified: 10/23/2006
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