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?