Red Meat: A Closer Look At The Bad, Better, And Best Choices To Add To Your Diet
If you’ve been making an effort to eat healthier, red meat may be something that you’ve recently taken out of your program plan. There’s a lot of stigma against red meat as many people believe it’s high in saturated fat and cholesterol – and should be avoided if you want to be lean and healthy. And while it’s true that some variations of red meat do posses more saturated fat than you should ideally take in, this isn’t the case for all red meat. In fact, some red meat is very healthy to include in your diet as it’ll deliver you a powerful source of zinc, vitamin B12, as well as iron.
Let’s look at the various cuts of red meat and go over which you should – and should not – be adding to your diet plan.
Topping the list of bad red meat choices to include in your diet are hot dogs, if one can even consider that a meat. Hot dogs are low in protein, high in unhealthy fats, and contain basically all the leftover meat that didn’t make the cut. They’re as processed as it comes, so you are best off just avoiding these in your diet entirely.
Coming in a close second to hot dogs are bacon. Bacon is also quite processed and is full of nitrates, sodium, and additives. Not to mention the fact it’s also rich in saturated fat on its own, if you choose to fry it in butter or oil like most people do, it’ll quickly become even worse. While you can purchase lighter options such as turkey bacon, overall, just say no and pass on this one whenever it’s offered. Per 3 oz. serving of plain bacon, you’ll consume over 450 calories and 35 grams of fat, illustrating just how damaging this can be to your diet plan.
Bologna, salami and pepperoni are the next three items that you’ll want to move off your diet plan as much as possible. These meats are all very processed as well and will really pack in a strong dose of sodium. They’re lacking in the quality protein that you’d want from a protein source and won’t provide much by way of nutrients.
Ground beef is the final very bad choice to make the ‘bad’ list. While you can get extra lean ground beef and have it be slightly better, in most cases that generic ground beef you purchase will be loaded in saturated fat containing more than 50% of its total calorie content from fat. Ground beef is also usually then prepared in an unhealthy manner (hamburgers anyone?), making it even worse than it already is.
Next we come to steak varieties with T-bone and Rib-eye being two cuts to avoid. Both of these steaks get more of their calories from fat than they do protein, while also providing quite a hearty dose of unwanted saturated fat to your day as well. You’ll take in over 450 calories in a 3.5 oz. serving of rib-eye steak, making it very hard to maintain that lean body if you choose to consume.
Now we move to the better category. The following types of red meat aren’t great, but you could do worse (see above). These can be eaten in moderation on an occasional basis in your diet only. The first better choice is roast beef. Roast beef, if trimmed, is relatively lean, so a decent option for your diet. It’ll also provide a good dose of iron as well, so can help with the prevention of iron deficiency anemia. The problem with roast beef is that it’s typically slathered in gravy, so if you want to keep it on the healthier side, be sure to avoid going that route.
Next up is New York strip steak. This steak variety contains 18 grams of fat per 3.5 oz. serving so isn’t exactly considered ‘lean’, but at the same time, isn’t as high in fat as the rib-eye steak was. Eat this in moderation when you really have a craving. A Porterhouse steak is on the similar side providing just over 16 grams of fat per 3.5 oz. serving and nearly 350 calories overall. Better cuts of steak would include the top sirloin steak (10.6 grams of fat), the eye of round steak (7 grams of fat), as well as the top round steak (7.6 grams of fat). These varieties are also lower in calorie content as well, coming in with fewer than 300 calories per 3.5 oz. serving.
Now we come to the best choices to go in for if eating red meat. On the steak side of things, sirloin tip side steak is your leanest choice with just over 5 grams of fat per serving and 200 calories. This makes it a very reasonable choice to include in your daily diet plan. Try and purchase a grass-fed variety whenever you can as these are higher in healthy fats and lower in saturated fat. Alternatively, pork tenderloin is another lean cut of red meat that can be eaten multiple times per week if you choose as it’ll pack in just three grams of fat per 3 oz. serving and offer 102 calories, putting it on par with chicken.
If you want to go really lean, try venison or bison. Both of these wild game meats are actually leaner than chicken is, but yet still provide the iron and nutrients that other red meat varieties do. These meats do tend to be drier, so just note that when you prepare them, you’ll likely need to add more oil or come up with another way to retain more moisture.
So there you have a closer look into the best cuts of red meat. Red meat can be a good addition to your diet plan if you choose wisely. Do keep in mind that how you cook all of these varieties will also greatly impact their nutritional content, so be sure to choose leaner, lower calorie cooking techniques as well.