Get Familiar With the Healthiest Cuts of Meats
by Evan DeMarco on Jul 26, 2022
You don’t have to give up meat to enjoy a healthy diet—in fact, we argue that sustainably and responsibly sourced meat from regenerative farms are some of the best nutritional sources around. No matter which kind of meat is your favorite, there are dozens of cuts to choose from.
Not all cuts are created equally, however. While fatty cuts are often richer in flavor, they’re also higher in calories. When you need to get more nutritional bang for your buck, opt for leaner cuts and organ meats—or branch out and try new animals like bison and venison.
Here’s a guide to the healthiest cuts of meat.
How to make the most of your meat
Here’s how to make healthier choices:
- Go for grass-fed beef: When red meat animals are grass-fed, they tend to be leaner. That makes them lower in calories, while still providing plenty of protein. Best of all, grass-fed beef and bison are richer in flavor than their fatter, grain-fed counterparts.
- Round, sirloin and loin: Round, sirloin and loin red meat tend to be the best choices when you’re craving red meat. For example, eye of round has 1.4 grams of saturated fat, and 4 grams of fat per serving. Sirloin has 1.6 grams of saturated fat, and 4.1 grams total fat. Top sirloin steak is the highest in fat, but still only has 1.9 grams of saturated fat and 4.9 grams of fat total.
- Skip the skin and trim the fat: If you’re eating meat with the skin still on, like chicken, consider removing the skin. Always trim excess fat from the meat before eating—but you may want to leave it while cooking, since fat imparts flavor. You can cut down on calories significantly just by following these simple steps.
- Eat more chicken: Skinless chicken breast is one of the leanest cuts around, which is why it’s so popular in diets. However, you don’t have to skip the dark meat. While dark poultry meat is higher in fat, it’s also a good source of iron, B vitamins, selenium and zinc. Try eating drumsticks as a happy medium: they’re only slightly higher in saturated fat than white meat, but more flavorful and full of vitamins.
- Try pork tenderloin: Pork—the “other white meat”—can also be lean. While pork belly and bacon might be deliciously popular, pork tenderloin is a flavorful yet lean cut that won’t break the bank.
- Consider bison and venison: Typically considered game meats, bison and venison are leaner meat sources with plenty of flavor. Use the same guidelines as you would to choose beef.
- Don’t forget the organ meats: Finally, consider eating organ meats. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals, are often less expensive than traditional cuts and are full of flavor. While not as popular in the United States, many cultures make the most of organ meats because they’re so nutritious.
Depending on your specific dietary needs and goals, certain types of meats may be better for you than others. Your doctor can help you develop health goals, so you can research the fat, protein and other nutritional content in your meat selections.
Remember, no matter whether you’ve chosen the perfect grass-fed steak or a lean piece of boneless skinless chicken breast, it’s important to follow safe food handling and cooking guidelines. Salmonella, trichinosis and other illnesses can result from undercooked meat and cross-contamination.
Source your meat responsibly
When looking for meat at your local market, try to find selections from regenerative farms whenever possible. Get familiar with food labels and know what they meat, including what “organic,” “grass-fed” and “free range” really mean. Once you understand the meat industry’s labels and standards, you’ll be able to find meat from well-fed, well-cared-for, unstressed animals. That’s not only the ethical choice, but your meat will taste better, too.
On a budget?
Given the soaring food prices lately, you might be on a budget and trying to reduce your meat consumption. To get more bang for your buck, look for eye of round, top sirloin steak and bottom round roast or steak. When eating chicken, consider learning to break down and debone whole chicken (or cuts with bone and skin still on) to save money—and calories.
Eat your meat
Ultimately, there are healthy cuts of meat from just about every animal. Use the guidelines above to find the right cuts for your budget, tastes and cooking abilities. When you look for ethically raised meat sources, you’re guaranteed a healthier and environmentally friendlier choice.