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To Beef or Not to Beef?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/30/2013 10:00 AM   :  65 comments   :  40,668 Views

Red meat gets a bad rap sometimes. Criticized for its high levels of fat and cholesterol, it's been avoided in the diet world for years. However, not all red meat is created equal; when choosing the right cuts in moderation, beef can be a great source of iron, protein and zinc. Between 3 ounces of cooked flank steak and 3 ounces of cooked 80/20% ground beef, which is the leaner choice?

The Winner: Flank Steak!
 

 
Three ounces of flank steak weighs in at 158 calories, 6.3 grams of fat, 2.6 grams of saturated fat and 66 mg of cholesterol. The same amount of 80/20% ground beef contains 230 calories, 15 grams of fat, 5.7 grams of saturated fat and 77 mg of cholesterol. Note that you can trim the calories and fat from your ground beef if you choose a leaner variety—95/5% ground beef has just 145 calories and 5.6 grams of fat per 3 ounces! (For more information about fat percentages of ground beef, check out this handy calculator from the USDA.)

If you're going to eat steak, it's best to prepare it yourself at home. The cuts found on restaurant menus are often triple (or quadruple) the appropriate serving size. (A 12-ounce ribeye steak from Applebee's is 670 calories—and that's without side dishes!) The cut of steak you choose can also make a huge difference in the nutritional profile. Check out the chart below to see how your favorites stack up! (All values are for 3 ounces of cooked meat.)
 
Beef Cut Calories Total Fat (g) Sat Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg)
Eye round roast 138 3.5 1.2 63
Ground beef (95/5%) 145 5.6 2.5 65
Top sirloin steak 156 4.9 1.9 70
Bottom round roast 157 6.5 2.7 66
Flank steak 158 6.3 2.6 66
T-Bone steak 161 7.4 2.6 47
Tenderloin steak 164 6.7 2.5 69
Chuck shoulder pot roast 167 6.6 2.4 83
Round steak, top 169 4.3 1.5 76
Top round roast 169 4.3 1.4 76
Brisket flat half 174 5.9 2.3 85
Round steak, bottom 182 6.5 2.3 79
Porterhouse steak 184 9.5 3.3 53
Ground beef (90/10%) 184 10 3.9 72
Beef brisket 185 8.6 3.1 79
Beef ribs 202 11 4.5 69
Ground beef (80/20%) 230 15 5.7 77
 
 
Additionally, try to buy organic beef whenever possible to cut back on preservatives, hormones, and other additives. If available to you, organic varieties that are also grass-fed are best; some research suggests that grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fatty acids than corn-fed or soy-fed beef.

Click here to learn more about the best and worst cuts of meat!

Do you eat red meat? What's your favorite way to prepare it?




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Comments

  • 65
    I eat meat but my BF is a vegetarian. We go meatless when he's home and when he's not i have my meat. I don't eat a lot of beef, but sometimes you just get sick of chicken and turkey. When I do make beef, I get lean cuts and mix it in. Tonight for example, I'm having sauerbraten (German beef) it makes 10 servings. I will freeze half, eat one serving tonight, pack one for lunch tomorrow, and the other three servings will get eaten over the course of the next few days, then I won't have beef for another week or two. It isn't something I have at every meal, but variation and moderation are important.
    - 2/26/2014   1:28:15 PM
  • 64
    Flank steak is the best with Terriyaki! - 1/5/2014   3:33:15 PM
  • 63
    Some really great info, I only buy grass fed beef from a local farmer, this year it was an entire half of a cow at once. I have it custom processed at a butcher who processes to my exact specifications, and never buy beef from a store. The calorie info is nice, we eat a lot of beef because my husband is allergic to chicken, and I don't care a whole lot for pork, but I am looking for a local source that I can buy an entire pig from, just for more variety in our food. I try for at least one vegetarian meal a week, which is tricky because he also won't eat tofu or most soy products. - 9/26/2013   4:22:02 PM
  • 62
    Great info and interesting comments. As a beef rancher myself, I am always amazed at the misconceptions that are perpetrated about eating beef. I am not advocating eating large amounts of beef but everything in moderation. There are many health benefits to eating some red meat. - 6/20/2013   12:25:23 PM
  • PHATNOMO11
    61
    Good info! - 6/9/2013   10:59:41 PM
  • 60
    I'm a vegan - life is good! - 6/7/2013   5:46:10 AM
  • 59
    I eat little red meat, because I don't really like the taste. I'll occasionally order it in a restaurant, but usually a small portion, perhaps on a salad. After a few bites, I've had enough. - 6/3/2013   1:11:52 PM
  • 58
    It bothers me that the statement use organic beef to cut back on preservatives, hormones and other additives. You can't sell beef with hormones in this country or you can be charged with selling adulterated food. The grocery stores add water or water with salt to many of their products (makes it weigh more) which is a good reason to buy directly from a farmer if possible by custom slaughter. Helps the farmer and gives you the freshest and best beef possible.
    SF - 6/3/2013   10:42:11 AM
  • 57
    Thanks for the chart! Where did you find it? I can't seem to save it to my phone. - 6/2/2013   10:44:18 AM
  • 56
    I don't eat red meat, but the rest of my family does. Thanks for the chart. - 5/31/2013   7:56:58 PM
  • 55
    I thank you for the chart. My husband and I are both dieting to loss weight and for health reasons and he loves beef, so this will help me make good choices. - 5/31/2013   4:40:19 PM
  • 54
    I would love to have a nice grilled or broiled steak, but can't chew them anymore. I will have 93% ground beef (or higher fat grilled outside since that drips out the fat) or sometimes I can get a roast cheap enough to fix in the crock pot so it will be tender enough.

    For those who keep saying only eat the wild meat, that costs 2-3 times what beef costs and beef is too high for some of us to afford. Anything I get (usually chicken) has to be on sale. - 5/31/2013   12:29:19 PM
  • BANNERMAN
    53
    Thanks for sharing a great chart. - 5/31/2013   2:10:58 AM
  • 52
    I'll stick with my vegetarian ways, but thanks for this. It will help me when I'm choosing food for my loved ones! - 5/30/2013   8:38:05 PM
  • 51
    Thanks for this blog post! Many people dedicated to making healthier food choices are unaware that there are 29 lean cuts of beef that fall between a skinless chicken breast and a skinless chicken thigh on the fat spectrum, each with less than 10 grams fat and 4.5 or fewer grams of saturated fat. Six beef cuts are certified "Heart Healthy" by the American Heart Association. All of this is good news for those of us who choose to enjoy beef as part of a healthy diet. - 5/30/2013   1:43:56 PM
  • 50
    For those who are "dissing" this article. it's for people who like beef. Some people live in agricultural areas where you can buy beef that is locally raised and butchered...with less chemicals, etc. It is nice to have the table as a reference for people who live in certain parts of the country. I live in a rural area where locally grown beef is available; if I lived in the city, I'd be vegetarian :-) - 5/30/2013   12:48:16 PM
  • 49
    I do not read red meat at all or dairy products. It was giving me stomach issues. I have been off of it since the first of the year and I feel so much better. - 5/30/2013   11:20:37 AM
  • 48
    It's disappointing that this article implies that BEEF is the the only red meat...and that your choices are between different cuts of cow. I was hoping that you'd actually explore the other red meats out there. Bison...emu...the less environmentally damaging, healthier choices would have made a more interesting article. - 5/30/2013   10:42:41 AM
  • 47
    I {heart} steak! - 1/20/2013   8:43:48 PM
  • 46
    I doesn't get much better than a beautiful medium rare fillet. I really can't believe all the who ha about red meat. Everything in moderation...don't have to have it every day. Also I have seen plenty of overweight, unhealthy vegetarians (I call them pasta-tarians). How you prepare your food and how much you eat has alot to do with how healthy you eat. At least beef doesn't have to be deep fried to make it taste good. - 1/17/2013   9:08:28 PM
  • 45
    I love beef, but have cut back alot since I have been dieting. - 1/14/2013   4:40:57 PM
  • 44
    I look around me and notice the vegetarians are thinner than the meat eaters. I notice I feel TOO FULL When I eat red meat. So Im thinking red meat is probably not as healthy for my body as other things. Thanks for the blog. I am going to print the chart and use it if ever I eat red meat in the future. VERY USEFUL! - 1/9/2013   6:07:19 PM
  • KITTYKANE
    43
    We only eat venison for red meat. Don't remember ever being so healthy. I freeze and can it. Also put up home grown/made tomato sauce (no preservatives or other weird chemicals!! ;) Also do veggie, salsa, roasted peppers, dried beans(can for quick usage, that way at last minute you have "store" type canned beans, for less than 1/4 of the cost and again,no chemicals - 1/9/2013   5:28:12 PM
  • 42
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE red meat - thanks for this guide - will come in handy! - 1/7/2013   3:45:41 PM
  • 41
    I hardly EVER cook beef at home--maybe 2-3 times a year. But I recently tried the Sparkrecipe for slow-cooker Moroccan beef stew, & oh, it's heavenly! I used organic grass-fed round steak. (You can afford to occasionally splurge on healthy meat when you buy it so seldom!) - 1/7/2013   2:56:57 PM
  • 40
    I like to grill lean steak. We buy local grass-fed beef which is far superior in flavor to what I used to purchase in the grocery stores. We also buy free-range chickens - again, worth the price difference. We eat vegetarian a few nights each week, but cannot go to a strict vegetarian diet as my husband has a B-12 deficiency caused by celiac disease that requires weekly injections. - 1/7/2013   1:01:48 PM
  • 39
    For me becoming a vegetarian is THE key that opened the door to creating a healthy lifestyle. I do believe that the hormones, steroids, antibiotics and agents used to fatten animals are what fattened me. I do not eat meat, and do not miss it. - 1/7/2013   7:12:51 AM
  • 38
    I hate to cook. LOL - 1/6/2013   10:52:44 PM
  • 37
    I love red meat! I do use 93% lean ground beef and we eat more chicken and fish than I used to but I still love beef!!!! - 1/6/2013   9:28:59 PM
  • 36
    I eat red meat but not as much. I like Pollock fish filets. I eat them every week. And I eat a lot of legumes, nuts and nut butters for protein. I'm glad I found out the stats on some of the different cuts of beef. Thank you very much! - 1/6/2013   6:26:28 PM
  • 35
    Steak should be marinated and grilled. I eat red meat but also mix in vegetarian options through out the week. - 1/6/2013   4:52:19 PM
  • 34
    I love red meat! We used to eat a LOT of beef, now we eat venison! It involves a little more preparation, but it is well worth it. Venison is lean and for sure organic. Thanks for sharing. - 1/6/2013   4:01:25 PM
  • 33
    Local, hormone-free, grass fed, pastured beef on the bone, slow-cooked - YUM! Organic beef with the fat is good for you. CAFO are the enemy, not fat. - 1/6/2013   3:04:17 PM
  • 32
    I used to eat massive amounts of red meat, esp. in my twenties. Mostly ground beef and the occasional steak or pot roast, and fast food burgers which shouldn't even be called real beef. I didn't practice portion control. Recent heart palpitations and a rise in blood pressure have made me rethink my ways. A correctly portioned piece of meat still seems to aggravate my heart. I've known a little about factory farming, but recently I've educated myself further and I am horrified by how cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys are treated. I've wanted to eat organic for years, but convinced myself I couldn't afford it. And indeed, when there was zero income coming in during the economic downturn, that was true. But now I have a strong conviction to eat local, grass-fed, sustainable beef and have begun to buy it (since I no longer spend money on fast food or factory meat). And guess what? No heart issues. And my heart is no longer burdened by guilt for eating animals through an unethical system built on greed that destroys animals and people's well-being. - 1/6/2013   1:08:37 PM
  • KEELEY1307
    31
    Thanks for sharing! - 1/6/2013   12:48:16 PM
  • KEELEY1307
    30
    Thank you for sharing! Feels good knowing that our beed choices seem to be on the right track! - 1/6/2013   12:47:34 PM
  • KEELEY1307
    29
    Thanks for posting! Helps to know that our beed choices seem to be on the right track! - 1/6/2013   12:45:55 PM
  • 28
    Beef is one of the main staples of my diet. I just love rump roast, (a cut of bottom round) which I cook in my crockpot. I season it with garlic and pepper. After I have had my small portions for several days, I then build a soup from the skimmed drippings and other flavorings. I use lots of veggies and beans in the soup.

    I also cut it into chunks to make a chef's salad, or grind it to make a sandwich filling. It is really versatile.

    I also make lots of meatballs when I can get a good buy on lean ground beef. Instead of frying them, I bake them in a convection oven and drain the fat from them. I bag them and freeze them and use them with alfredo sauce or a spaghetti sauce and a serving of pasta.

    I probably eat beef 5-7 days a week. I can't imagine a diet without it. - 1/6/2013   11:24:50 AM
  • CLAYLADY001
    27
    I too love meat !Husband says he must have meat at every meal but lately I have been giving us less red meat and more turkey meat.He wants red meat so I cook it and try to control myself but I do also love red meat.Today we will eat light but tomorrow will cook up a pork loin and freeze the leftovers.We sold our large stand up freezer and now only have two reg.size refrigerators with freezers good start to eating less.He has severe COPD and I have health complications also and so eating less is important and we both are losing weight slowly. - 1/6/2013   11:16:20 AM
  • 26
    I only buy hormone-free, grass-fed meat. Yes, it is more expensive, but, guess what! That means I buy smaller amounts which means smaller portions! Bingo! You can have your meat and a healthy lifestyle, too! - 1/6/2013   10:47:04 AM
  • 2DIETORNOT2DIET
    25
    I love beef enjoy it when I have it. I have hunters in my family so some of my beef recipes have been replaced with moose or elk so good. - 1/6/2013   10:33:22 AM
  • 24
    We rarely eat beef mostly because of the factory farming issue. If I ever do buy it (it's rare for me to buy it), I get it from a local farm where I know the cows are kept as real cows should be. It's very expensive, so I don't buy much of it. It's a family farm and get this...the wife is a vegetarian and has been for over 25 years since marrying her farming husband. :). This is good information to know so I buy the better cuts. - 1/6/2013   9:19:04 AM
  • 23
    Thank you for the chart I will copy it and save. We always have a half a black angus beef and a half of a hog in my freezer seeing my brother-in-law is a farmer and thats how we get paid when we work there. I love going to my freezer and getting what I want for meals. I also do all my own canning and freezing so its the same with veggys just get what I want for a meal. But, now I know the calorie difference for each cut of beef makes it easier then trying to google it. Thanks for the chart - 1/6/2013   9:04:44 AM
  • 22
    Fat is not the enemy. Enjoy a moderate portion of a ribeye, which tastes much better than flank steak, with a salad or broccoli and skip the bread, baked potato, and dessert. - 1/6/2013   8:46:58 AM
  • 21
    I'm following Dr. Jonny Bowden's "unleash your thin" program. I can finally have my beef and eat it too! I buy grass-fed beef now and do notice a difference when cooking that there is very little fat even from the grass-fed ground beef. I've been eating it about twice a week since August of 2012, along with organic eggs and organic butter on vegetables. My blood work numbers are in the excellent ratio range! I've also lost 50 lbs so far. Cheers to grass-fed beef! - 1/6/2013   8:28:23 AM
  • LAURANCE
    20
    Doggie bags! If you want to eat beef at a restaurant, you can bring the excess home with you. I have a nice big attractive purse with food containers in it. I bring the "food bag" when we go out, and I don't hesitate to eat an appropriate portion and bring the rest home with me. One restaurant meal out makes two meals for me, one out and one again at home. - 1/6/2013   8:23:33 AM
  • 19
    I'm a vegetarian - therefore, I do not eat cow! - 1/6/2013   12:10:02 AM
  • KHALIA2
    18
    I like the taste of beef but I eat very little of it. - 1/5/2013   10:48:44 PM
  • EVAGODWIN2
    17
    I love beef and am glad I don't have to give it up completely. Just need to be careful of cut and portion control. - 1/5/2013   10:15:23 PM
  • 16
    I am calling BS on this one- you are better off eating Game meat ( moosemeat or venison) or bison. Both are lower in fat and better for you . And YES they are RED MEAT. - 1/5/2013   5:30:50 PM

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