To Beef or Not to Beef?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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 and steak seasoning 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

BILLTHOMSON 11/17/2018
Some great information, thank-you Report
JWCOLBY 5/16/2018
FAT STEAK, bring it on. As a ketogenic dieter (and intermittent faster) trimming all that fat off is a big no-no.

Sadly I do love my potatoes which I have stopped eating. But a fat bomb salad is even better!

Low carb, ketogenic, IF all the way.

I've lost 45 lbs in 6 months, my A1C is 6.1 and dropping. Fasting blood glucose well below 100, even down in the 80s occasionally (during a fast). NO diabetes meds. Works for me. Report
MUSICNUT 4/25/2018
Thanks for the great information! :) Report
FISHGUT3 3/14/2018
thanks Report
MIYAMO 2/4/2018
Thanks for the information. I like beef. Report
Thanks for the information Report
Thanks for the info Report
Good info Report
thanks for the info Report
I do like to eat beef especially since I am anemic. DH and I have reduced our consumption. But 3 ounces is a pretty small portion, and I am not a huge eater. Report
Thanks for sharing this...SOUNDS WONDERFUL! Report
TAMARAUNDERKIRC
Fast foods cured me of my love for beef. Now I don't eat it. Report
I eat beef at least once a week, but not the tasteless hormone filled, force fed store offerings. The difference in grass fed beef I raise is unbelievable to most people that have never had anything but the store bought stuff, same with the lamb, pork, chicken and rabbit that is raised here on the farm. I can see why some people don't like the taste of store bought meat, the chicken in the store always tastes slightly spoiled to me compared to the fresh home grown, and the beef has an off taste, pork is just plain tasteless with all the saline they inject into it for store sales. Report
ALGUNARUBIA
Count me as another person who's disappointed that this was actually about beef choices rather than beef vs. lamb vs. venison, etc. Report
Growing up I don't think I cared for it BUT as an adult I liked eating pronghorn antelope and moose meat my Dad had harvested. I really remember one roast my Mom had prepared and brought over for a birthday
(not MINE) I can recall how clean it tasted and the only odd thing was that it was redder than a beef roast so I had to ask my mom later one why it was like that. Report
I don't eat beef anymore, just wanted to check out this chart. I am SO HAPPY that it doesn't have Tri-tip on it! I moved to CA from the Chicago area, and I know Tri-tip isn't a traditional cut of beef, but it seems to be the going thing here. NO one here has heard of cuts like flank or brisket or round. When I did buy beef, shopping was interesting. Report
I was looking for a chart like this! Thanks! Report
I love meat. I eat a lot if it. Usually my husband gets a deer and I have that ground up. Sadly this year he did not get a deer. I do choose the lower fat cuts. It is the best way to get quality protein with very low calories. I also like buffalo meat. Report
COMPCHIC52
Me and hubby go out to eat steak sharing 1 Meal. If you get the 10 oz steak cut it in half it will be about 4 oz each cause after its cooked it is lighter. Its also cheaper. You mostly get 2 sides with the 1 meal. It is perfect. Report
I don't digest meat very well - never have.

Different strokes, I guess. Report
Smaller portions extra fruits and bright colored veggies Report
Haven't eaten red meat for 15 years.....don't plan on starting! Report
FOXGLOVE999
We eat beef once a week, usually top round, occasionally filet mignon. Both lean cuts, in reasonable amounts, 2-3 ounces per person. We eat each protein once a week, lamb, pork, beef, chicken, fish, with one night out, and one night vegetarian or the meat is a seasoning, like soup, or pasta. Moderation in all things, that's the key. Report
I eat red meat with some fat for flavor, although I don't eat it every day. It helps with my anemia.

I am a proud carnivore. Life is good! Report
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.
Report
Flank steak is the best with Terriyaki! Report
NIKI778
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. Report
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. Report
Good info! Report
I'm a vegan - life is good! Report
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. Report
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 Report
Thanks for the chart! Where did you find it? I can't seem to save it to my phone. Report
I don't eat red meat, but the rest of my family does. Thanks for the chart. Report
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. Report
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. Report
BANNERMAN
Thanks for sharing a great chart. Report
I'll stick with my vegetarian ways, but thanks for this. It will help me when I'm choosing food for my loved ones! Report
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. Report
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 :-) Report
CYND59
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. Report
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. Report
I {heart} steak! Report
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. Report
I love beef, but have cut back alot since I have been dieting. Report
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! Report
KITTYKANE
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 Report
I LOVE LOVE LOVE red meat - thanks for this guide - will come in handy! Report
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!) Report
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. Report