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What's the Healthiest Red Meat?

The Leanest Cuts of Meats Revealed

Needing a break from chicken and turkey? While red meat can be higher in cholesterol and saturated fat than chicken, fish, or turkey, it can still be incorporated into a healthy diet plan. Not all red meat offers the same nutritional benefits, and some are much leaner than others, so learn which cuts to incorporate into your diet.

  • Bison: Believe it or not, at 145 calories, bison is comparable to skinless chicken breast when it comes to calories, fat, and cholesterol. It's a terrific source of protein and iron, and as far as flavor goes, expect something like beef, only a little sweeter and richer.
  • Beef: The USDA defines a lean cut of beef as a 3.5-ounce serving that contains fewer than 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol, and there are 29 cuts on the list. However, the leanest overall are the loin, round, or sirloin cuts. When choosing beef, choose cuts graded "choice" or "select" rather than "prime" since "prime" usually has more fat and, as a result, more marbling in its appearance. Of the three grades, "select" is usually the leanest.
  • Veal: While a little higher in cholesterol than beef, veal is a tender red meat that comes from young cattle. The leanest cuts are the sirloin, rib chop, loin chop, and top round. A three-ounce trimmed portion of a sirloin cut provides 150 calories or fewer per serving. Avoid fattier veal cutlets and breast meat.
  • Lamb: Try cuts from the shank half of the leg (if labels aren't clear, ask the butcher). A three-ounce serving of a well-trimmed lamb shank has five to six grams of fat and about 155 calories.
  • Pork: Pork gets a pretty bad rap, but lean cuts are rich in B vitamins and protein. Pork tenderloins have 122 calories and three grams of fat per three-ounce serving, while boneless chops weigh in at fewer than 150 calories per serving.
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