High levels of cholesterol in your bloodstream increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Although saturated and trans fats raise cholesterol levels more than the actual cholesterol in your diet, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, it is still important to be aware of the amount of dietary cholesterol you're consuming. A typical serving of beef supplies about one-fourth of your recommended daily cholesterol intake.
What's the Beef About "Good and "Bad" Cholesterol?
Since fatty substances can’t travel through water-based blood, cholesterol is tucked inside carrier lipoproteins, which transport it through the bloodstream. The lipoprotein determines whether the cholesterol is good or bad. Some lipoproteins -- high-density lipoproteins, or "good" HDL -- take cholesterol to the liver where it’s excreted or becomes bile. The low-density lipoproteins, or "bad" LDL, transport cholesterol to cells in the body that might use it. If none of the tissues need cholesterol, it keeps circulating in your blood and can stick to artery walls.
Off the Scale
Beef liver provides well over your recommended daily allowance, or RDA, of vitamins A and B-12. A 3-ounce serving is also a rich source of iron and B vitamins. But unfortunately, it’s also an exceptional source of cholesterol. Three ounces of braised beef liver contain 337 milligrams of cholesterol, which exceeds the total amount of cholesterol you should consume in one day. Healthy adults should limit cholesterol to 300 milligrams or less daily, according to the American Heart Association. If you already have high blood cholesterol levels, don’t consume more than 200 milligrams daily.
Lean by any Other Name
Choosing lean beef affects the amount of total fat and unhealthy saturated fat you’ll consume, but it's only a general guideline for cholesterol. Lean beef contains no more than 10 grams of fat and 4.5 grams of saturated fat in a 100-gram portion. Extra lean beef is limited to 5 grams of total fat and 2 grams or less of saturated fat. However, both types of beef can contain up to 95 milligrams of cholesterol, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most cuts of beef have less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3-ounce serving.
Bottom Line in Beef Cuts
Chuck roast contains more cholesterol than other cuts of beef. A 3-ounce serving of braised chuck blade roast has 90 milligrams and a braised chuck arm roast has 100 milligrams of cholesterol. A variety of beef cuts contain 70 to 80 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3-ounce serving, including rib roast, eye of round, top round, sirloin and tenderloin cuts. Ground beef falls into the same range. Ninety-percent lean ground beef has 72 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3-ounce serving, while 80 percent lean ground beef contains 77 milligrams.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: Out With the Bad, In With the Good
- USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Beef, Variety Meats and By-Products, Liver, Cooked, Braised
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: A Guide to Federal Food Labeling Requirements for Meat and Poultry Products
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: Beef and Veal Nutrition Facts
- USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Beef, Ground, 90 Percent Lean Meat, 10 Percent Fat, Patty, Cooked, Broiled
- USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Beef, Ground, 80 Percent Lean Meat, 20 Percent Fat, Patty, Cooked, Broiled