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Best and Worst Meat Choices

Which is better: steak or prime rib? What is thinner: ground turkey breast or ground beef? If you’re trying to cut calories or just eat healthier, the navigation section of the meat in your local grocery store can be as confusing as decoding a nutrition label!

For those who eat the meat it provides protein and other nutrients, also including iron, thiamin and zinc. However, many sources of meat can also be high in fat, especially saturated fat, which has been linked to high cholesterol and heart disease. And any food with high fat content is also higher in calories, which can make it difficult to achieve their weight management goals. To assist consumers in selecting meat, the government developed the following definitions, from a portion of cooked meat 3-oz.

  • extra lean meat contains less than 5 grams of total fat and less than 2 grams of saturated fat.
  • Lean meat contains less than 10 grams of total fat and less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat.

This guide will help you navigate the meat department and make the best decisions for health, calories and flavor.


Once considered a health problem no-no, red meat is making its way back to the plates of diet and conscious consumers health alike. But not all cuts of red meat is a winner. Here are some considerations to make when selecting beef.

Grade: The level refers to the amount of marbling or fat, found in meat cutting. It has nothing to do with the safety of meat or how rose-is all about the fat content. Meat having a higher grade has more fat, and therefore increased sensitivity. The three most common grades are:

  1. Prime (the fattiest court, found more often in restaurants)
  2. Option (moderate fat)
  3. Select (the leanest grade).

Court Court refers to the part of the animal whose meat is taken from. Most of the leanest cuts come from the hip region or hindquarters of the animal. “Round” or “back” are key words to keep in mind when cutting leanest meat you want (think top round, sirloin, top loin, tenderloin, round eye, etc.). When selecting ground beef, look at the percentages: 80 lean / 20% means that the meat is lean 80% and 20% fat. Look ground beef labeled 90/10% (or thinner). To help in the nutritional analysis of your choice of ground beef, check out this calculator developed by the USDA. See the table below for a nutritional comparison of different cuts of meat.

Color: Color is another way of saying the amount of red meat contains fat. veins visible fat (marbling) indicates high fat meats; less marbling means it is lower in fat. For ground meat, the darker the meat, the lower your fat and vice versa.

See the table below for a nutritional comparison of different types of beef. These values ​​are for one cooked alone, 3-ounce serving (85 grams) the meat with the fat trimmed, unless otherwise specified.


Birds: Chicken and Turkey

chicken and turkey are generally regarded as a healthy alternative to Red meat. While poultry may be thinner, some cuts and cooking methods can make it so bad for you, if not worse, than red meat. When selecting poultry, consider the following:

Court Different cuts of poultry, such as beef and pork, have different calorie and fat content. In general, white meat, such as breasts and wings, are lower in calories, fat and cholesterol while cuts cuts of dark meat (legs and thighs) are higher. Boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breast is the leanest cuts of poultry. skinless chicken wings are also a good choice, but beware fried chicken wings, often immersed in high-calorie sauces.

Color: dark turkey or chicken selections have their own advantages and disadvantages and light. White meat, or meat lighter color, is thinner than the darkest cuts. However, the dark meat contains more B vitamins (thiamine), such as iron and, although it is higher in fat and calories. Choose the parts of the leg or thigh occasionally for a nutritional boost, especially if you prefer to eat less red meat rich in iron. When buying ground beef chicken or turkey, look minced chicken or turkey breast flesh; it will be lighter in color and lighter at the waist. ground chicken and ground turkey may include fat and skin, and the flesh, which increases the fat and calories.

Skin: Meanwhile, poultry skin is not necessarily bad for you, but when the meat is cooked, a lot of fat once inside the bird It filtered out and remains trapped in the skin, so it is high in fat. Choose skinless whenever possible (or just remove the skin yourself) and you’ll save 50 calories and 5 grams of fat per 3 oz (Cooked) portion.

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Sodium: poultry is generally low in sodium, but when you buy marinated, frozen or canned, can contain added sodium. Read labels carefully: Look for “low sodium” or “unsalted” bird varieties of canned or frozen poultry. Some items canned chicken, while it is convenient, may contain more than 250 mg of sodium per serving. The products of “low sodium” usually contain less than one third of the sodium in the original products.

See the table below for a nutritional comparison of different types of poultry. These values ​​are for one cooked alone, 3-ounce serving (85 grams) , unless otherwise specified.



Although it has been marketed as “the other white meat” in the recent decades, the pork is actually considered a type of red meat. While the pork is synonymous with bacon and sausages, which can be high in fat, not all cuts of pork are the bane of a dieter. As with chicken meat, cut pork plays an important role in making a healthy choice. The leanest pork is cut pork loin; However, other cuts such as pork ribs, roasts, or leg (ham) are also good choices. Choose Canadian bacon center cut or on regular bacon strips. lean pork is a good source of thiamine, phosphorus, niacin and vitamin B-12, and is high in protein and low in fat. In fact, lean pork actually contains higher amounts of thiamine, niacin and vitamin B-6 and B-12 than many other types of meat. Choose cuts / high in processed fats, like sausage and hot dogs, as a rare. (See the section later in this article for more information “processed meat”.)

See the table below for a nutritional comparison of different types of pork. These values ​​are for one cooked alone, 3-ounce serving (85 grams) , unless otherwise specified.


deli and meat

Processed meats include sausages, meats (cold cuts) , mortadella, salami, pepperoni, spam and still retains. These meats are convenient, often inexpensive and easy to make snacks part or fast foods. Of course, as all types of meat, some options in the processed category are better than others.
whole cuts of meats
When purchasing meats, whole cuts select as often as possible. These are cuts of meat cut from whole sections of the animal (cooked but otherwise unprocessed), such as sliced ​​turkey breast. all cutting sausages are generally more expensive and can be found at the deli counter. The best choices for cold meats are low-sodium meats that are cut from whole animal, such as low-sodium chicken or turkey breast. Sometimes you can find them packed in the refrigerated section of cold meats, but that can be tricky as most packaged sausages (sausages) are processed (more on this later).

Formed sectioned and Meat
This type of cold cuts has been made from multiple pieces of meat. These pieces of meat are “glued” together using non-meat additives and emulsions (think SPAM). sectioned and formed meat is often cheaper than whole cuts, but also tends to contain higher amounts of sodium and preservatives.

processed meats
There are more than 200 varieties of sausages and processed meats including bologna, wieners, and hot dogs. Processed meats are meat and dairy products (such as mouth, stomach and heart) that have been chopped, seasoned and shaped into the desired shape. Front-of-pack labels can be misleading, as “chicken” deli slices often include more than meat to carve him from the cooked chicken to eat.

Processed meats also tend to be high in sodium and contain nitrites / nitrates, a type of preservative that helps the product retains its color, while preventing the growth of Clostridium botulinum (which is responsible for botulism). When meat is cooked, nitrites combine with amines are naturally occurring compounds to form carcinogens called nitrosamines. However, in the 1920s, cured meat practices Americans were altered and this resulted in a 69% decrease in the average amount of nitrite content of processed meats. The prevalence of gastric cancer was reduced drastically. In 1970, it was discovered that ascorbic acid (vitamin C) inhibited the formation of nitrosamine. This discovery led to the addition of ascorbic necessary to processed meat in the USA acid ..
Sausage is defined as minced meat, usually pork or mixtures thereof, mixed with fat, salt , preservatives, and spices. Very often we think of the sausage-shaped “link”, which is wrapped in a wrapper, but we can also come in bulk or pie too. fresh raw sausage is and must be cooked before eating. The cured or have already dried sausage cooked and ready to eat. Usually, fresh sausages are lower in sodium and fat sausages are. To reduce fat even more, cooking sausages on a griddle pan or grill where fat can be drained and discarded; then use a couple of paper towels to pat dry sausage before eating. As with bacon, sausage try to use more as a condiment to enhance the flavor of soups, pasta or rice dishes rather than as the main source of protein for a meal.

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hot dogs , which are actually a type of sausage, traditionally made up of a mixture of pork and beef trimmings and fat, along with some flavorings, spices and preservatives. Other varieties include chicken or turkey dogs, or a mixture of the above low cost using mechanically separated poultry products. In general, the hot dogs are high in fat and sodium and contain high amounts of nitrites, which all have been linked to health problems. However, hot dogs can be enjoyed as a rare treat. Just remember to buy varieties uncured or nitrites, and search dogs with less than 350 mg sodium per serving.

Processed meats are often higher in sodium and fat, and research has linked high consumption of processed meats with certain types of cancer. However, small amounts of processed meats sometimes are probably safe to eat.

See the table below for a nutritional comparison of different types of meats and processed meats. These values ​​are for a single serving of 3 ounces (85 grams) of meat , unless otherwise specified.


Tips for preparing all cuts of meat

Once you have selected your meat of choice, how to prepare it to make sure it is keeping slim and healthy? Apply the following advice to any cut of meat.

  • trim the fat: visible fat removed before cooking. If a stew or soup is prepared it the day ahead and refrigerate overnight. The fat will rise to the top and harden, so it is easy to drawdowns and discard. For ground beef, brown the meat and place in a colander. Drain and rinse with water for one minute. cubed meat must be browned and drained of fat before using.
  • Portion Control: Objective 3-4 ounces per serving, or about the size of a deck of cards. As with any eating plan, portion control is key to reducing the consumption of fat and calories.
  • Cooking methods: The choice of proper cooking method is important to prevent lean cuts of meat become dry and tough. Lean cuts of meat often benefit from a cooking method ‘wet’ as stew. If you prefer grilled or broiled meat, try to marinate first for at least 6 hours. A short marinade (<1 hour) add flavor, but longer marinades add flavor and help tenderize the meat. Be sure to include an acid component, such as vinegar, wine or citrus juice along with other ingredients. Other methods include low-fat cooking grilling, sauteing and baking.
  • Choose the least processed cuts: Look for “whole” meats, such as chicken breasts, steaks, pork chops, ground turkey, etc., and avoid packaged, such as hot dogs, bologna and sausage meat. Processed meats tend to be higher in sodium and unhealthy fats. They have also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity.
  • Fat: Avoid adding high-fat ingredients such as cheese and butter meat. Opting to meat flavor with fresh herbs and spices instead. Some friction can be high in salt, but you can control this by their own friction.
  • Ingredients list: Look at the list of ingredients for fillers or additives that are added for flavor, increase volume, or preservation. Fillers may include starches, isolated soy protein, cellulose fibers, soy concentrate, TVP (textured vegetable protein), and carrageenan.

all things Grass Fed. “Health Benefits”. www.csuchico.edu.

American Pregnancy Association. “Listeria and pregnancy” www.americanpregnancy.org.

National Agricultural Library. “National Database USDA Nutrient” ndb.nal.usda.gov.

Oxford International Journal of Epidemiology. “The epidemiological enigma of gastric cancer rates in the US,” ije.oxfordjournals.org.

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