As a great source of protein and essential vitamins and nutrients, including iron, B vitamins, and zinc, beef really can be a healthy meal choice — despite some food myths you may have heard.
One key to fitting beef into a healthy diet is choosing the right cuts of meat. That means looking for lean and extra-lean picks, which deliver the nutritional benefits without excess saturated fat and calories. For example, “A 4-ounce serving of lean flank steak contains about 30 grams of complete protein, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat and 220 calories, while the same serving of fat-marbled porterhouse steak has similar protein, but three times more fat and saturated fat, and 340 calories,” NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor Madelyn Fernstrom told TODAY Food.
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The USDA definition of “lean” applies to a 3.5-ounce (100 gram) serving of beef with less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams, or less, of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. A 3.5-ounce serving of “extra lean” beef must contain less than 5 grams of fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.
When you’re at the meat counter, look for cuts with the word “loin” or “round” in the name, such as sirloin, tenderloin, eye of round and top round. Chuck shoulder and arm roasts are also lean cuts. When choosing ground beef, look for a 90/10 or 95/5 lean to fat ratio.
Also, keep your serving portions in check, even with lean beef: The American Heart Association recommends limiting lean meat, skinless chicken and fish to less than six ounces per day. You can keep serving sizes in check by filling most of your plate with vegetables, by using beef as a garnish or by using it in combination with other proteins (beef and bean chili, for example).
Here are some delicious ways to enjoy beef in a lighter, leaner way!