Despite the name, sweetbreads are neither sugary treats nor dough-based products, but rather consist of the pancreas and gullet of animals. Beef sweetbreads are derived from cows and are rich in protein, but are also high in fat. Beef sweetbreads are high in calories, so they may not be appropriate for dieting. Beef sweetbreads can be breaded and fried, but are also served roasted or grilled.
Beef sweetbread is calorie-dense, as a 4 oz. cooked portion provides 360 calories. This amount comprises 18 percent of the daily suggested intake of 2,000 and is more than other beef products, such as sirloin steak, which contains 145 calories per 4 oz. serving. Beef sweetbread is not ideal for dieting, as it would take 42 minutes of swimming laps or one hour and 39 minutes of weightlifting to burn 360 calories.
Beef sweetbreads are high in fat. Each 4 oz. serving of this food contains 28 g of fat, with nearly 10 g of saturated fat. Dietary fat is a required nutrient for proper health, although too much can hinder your attempts to manage your weight, as it is calorie-dense. Additionally, too much saturated fat may increase your risk of heart disease. To limit your risk for heart disease, restrict saturated fat intake to just 15 g each day.
Beef sweetbreads are a rich source of protein, with 25 g in each 4 oz. portion. Protein is a vital nutrient because it provides your body with the amino acids it needs to build and repair body tissues and carry out other important functions. A 4 oz. serving of beef sweetbreads provides 1 g more protein than a 4 oz. serving of sirloin steak.
Beef sweetbreads do not contain any carbohydrates. Carbohydrates fuel your body with energy, so consuming them can be beneficial for exercise. However, limiting carbohydrates may be beneficial in certain circumstances; a study from the April 2011 issue of "The British Journal of Nutrition" suggests that a diet high in protein but low in carbohydrates can produce more weight loss than higher carbohydrate meal plans. Though it is important to always check with your doctor before beginning any diet plan, as your needs may be different.
Beef sweetbread is high in cholesterol. Each 4 oz. serving contains 332 mg of cholesterol, which is 110 percent of the daily suggested intake. A high cholesterol intake may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, so the American Heart Association suggests a limit of 300 mg each day.