When people think of red meat, oftentimes beef is the first thing to come to mind. Despite red meat being a great source of protein, iron and zinc, medical professionals caution consumers to limit red meat in their diets due to the saturated fat content. That said, you can also find lean red meat options.
Red meats, eaten in moderation, can add a punch of muscle-building protein to your diet. But with so many choices, it can be hard to know which cuts are the best. Use these simple guidelines to choose the best meat possible.
Choose the leanest cuts of meat
A simple rule of thumb is to choose the leanest cuts, which provide you with the most protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, while keeping fat intake low. When choosing your steak, look for one with the least amount of white or marbling on it. For example, if you’re choosing between a rib-eye and a tenderloin, the tenderloin is leaner and less white than the rib-eye.
Stick with round, sirloin, or loin
These cuts of meat are typically less fatty than others. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association top five lean cuts are:
- Eye of round – 1.4 g saturated fat, 4 g total fat
- Sirloin tip side steak – 1.6 g saturated fat, 4.1 g total fat
- Top round roast and Steak – 1.6 g saturated fat, 4.6 g total fat
- Bottom round roast and steak – 1.7 g saturated fat, 4.9 g total fat
- Top sirloin steak – 1.9 g saturated fat, 4.9 g total fat
On a budget? The most wallet-friendly of these lean cuts are the eye of round, top sirloin beef steak, and bottom round roast and steak.
Try something new
If you’re an adventurous eater, try replacing your beef with bison or venison. These meats are as lean as the beef options mentioned above and offer a unique taste. For bison, stick with a 3-ounce serving of top sirloin (2 g sat fat, 4.8 g total fat), and choose a 3-ounce serving of backstrap or tenderloin steaks (0.54 g sat fat, 2.6 g total fat) for venison.
Opt for grass-fed beef
If you’re willing to spend more (on average twice as much as non-grass fed beef), choose grass-fed meats in the same cuts mentioned above. These red meats are typically even leaner than their grain-fed counterparts and appear to have a better fatty acid composition, which may benefit your heart, joints, and brain.
The top three grass-fed options to indulge in are
- top sirloin beef steak
- top sirloin bison steak, and
- sirloin tip side steak