(1) Background: This study assessed the influence of beef consumption on nutrient intakes and diet quality among U.S. adults. (2) Methods: Nationally-representative sample (n
= 27,117) from 2005–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was analyzed. First-difference estimator addressed confounding bias from time-invariant unobservables (e.g., eating habits, taste preferences) by using within-individual variations in beef consumption between 2 nonconsecutive 24 h dietary recalls. (3) Results: Approximately 54%, 39%, 12%, and 7% of U.S. adults consumed beef, lean beef, fresh beef, and fresh lean beef, respectively. Overall diet quality measured by the Health Eating Index-2015 (HEI-2015) score among beef, fresh beef, lean beef, and fresh lean beef consumers was lower than beef non-consumers. Regression analyses found that beef, fresh beef, lean beef, and fresh lean beef consumption was associated with higher daily intakes of total energy, protein, sodium, choline, iron, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and multiple B vitamins. Beef, fresh beef, and lean beef consumption but not fresh lean beef consumption was associated with higher saturated fat intake. Beef consumption was not found to be associated with overall dietary quality measured by the HEI-2015 score. (4) Conclusions: Beef consumers may increase the intake of fresh and lean beef over total beef consumption to maximize the nutritional gains from beef portions while minimizing the resulting increases in energy, saturated fat, and sodium.
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