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Low-fat beef

Perry McNeese, general manager of Good Earth Market in Billings, sells low-fat, low-cholesterol beef from the Blacktail Mountain Ranch.

It’s only a matter of days until the diet conscious among us scribble two words atop a list of 2012 New Year’s resolutions: Lose weight.

The mere idea of shedding pounds may be more palpable if the diet includes a succulent New York strip steak or a juicy, flavor-rich burger every now and then.

Get ready because this could be the year you may get to have it both ways.

Ed Jonas, owner of Blacktail Mountain Ranch, a small ranch nestled in a secluded mountain valley above Flathead Lake in Rollins, might hold part of the solution. The ranch produces a new breed of beef cattle known as HighMont Beef. It comes from a cross of the Piedmontese breed with the ancient cattle breed of Scottish Highland, both known for their low-fat and low-cholesterol characteristics.

“What you eat affects your health and your heart health,” Jonas said. “Our No. 1 goal is to provide an all-natural, heart-healthy beef that also tastes great.”

Shipped nationwide

The beef is being used in numerous Montana restaurants and St. Luke Community Hospital in Ronan. It’s being stocked in health food stores across the country, including in Billings, and is being shipped throughout the nation.

“People have caught on to the fact that they can eat beef again,” Jonas said. “Our goal is to save lives.”

The average portion of HighMont Beef has 30 milligrams of cholesterol, according to Jonas, who said the meat has been tested. The American Heart Association recommends that most people consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol daily. Meats typically contain 70 mg of cholesterol in each 3-oz. cooked serving. However, the amount of cholesterol in a hamburger depends on the size of the patty, the type of ground beef used to make the patty, how it’s cooked and what toppings you use.

Good alternative

Perry McNeese, general manager of Good Earth Market in Billings, stocks the beef, saying he wants to give customers a healthier alternative.

Jonas has a good heart-healthy product with an assortment of steaks and ground beef, McNeese said.

“The value is there, but it’s not selling the way I think it should,” McNeese said. “The right people don’t know about it.”

Prices range from $6.99 per pound for chuck steak to $19.85 per pound for New York strip steak.

The beef has earned the endorsement of Dr. Eve Gillespie, a cardiologist from Kalispell who visited the ranch. She said Jonas has come up with an idea that “could revolutionize the prevention of cardiovascular disease and improve health.”

She said with the advent of Jonas’ product, physicians would no longer have to recommend their patients avoid beef.

But how does something that’s actually good for you taste? According to Gillespie, it “couldn’t be better.”

Contact Cindy Uken at cuken@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.

Contact Cindy Uken at cuken@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.

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