February is American Heart Month, which is an effort to remind Americans how important heart health is and to take steps to lower our risk of heart disease.

"We can actually reduce our risk of heart disease by as much as 82 percent by simply leading a healthier lifestyle," said Alane Lidolph, director of consumer information for the Missouri Beef Industry Council (MBIC).

According to Lidolph, eating for heart health is actually good news for beef lovers. She says that beef's fatty acid profile is generally misunderstood.

"And actually half of the fatty acids in beef are monounsaturated fatty acids, which are the same heart healthy kind found in olive oil."

In addition, one third of the saturated fat in beef is a unique fatty acid called stearic acid, which has been shown to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels. Lidolph says research studies have shown that lean beef can be effectively incorporated into a low-fat diet designed to lower blood cholesterol.

"Beef isn't our father's steak anymore, and it's actually 20 percent leaner than it was 15 years ago. The 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean can serve as a great basis for building a heart-healthy entree," Lidolph says.

Those 29 lean cuts of beef include some of America's favorites, such as sirloin, tenderloin and T-bone steak and 95-percent lean ground beef. Lidolph says to help people know which cuts of beef are the leanest, MBIC and six other state beef councils have coordinated with 197 Hy-Vee stores and corporate dietitians to provide that information where meat-buying decisions are made.

"This campaign, called Lighten Up Hy-Vee, provides recipe cards that are right at the meat case. It has Hy-Vee's leanest cuts of beef that they have available printed right on the card, as well as two recipes that feature lean cuts of beef."

For additional information, or a copy of the recipe card, contact the Missouri Beef Industry Council at 573-817-0899, log onto www.mobeef.org, or email beefinfo@mobeef.com.