If you are watching your weight or concerned about cholesterol levels, controlling fat intake is a good option. Eating less fat does not mean omitting beef from your diet. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has implemented a grading system that takes the guesswork out of choosing the healthiest cuts of steak.
Lean and Extra Lean
When it comes to healthy cuts of steak, the leaner the better. Lean cuts contain less fat, which is better for the heart and cholesterol levels. According to Colorado State University Extension, a 3.5-ounce serving of lean steak contains only 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol. An extra lean cut of steak contains as little as 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol for every 3.5 ounces.
The Top Cut
The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates beef standards. Classifications such as lean or extra lean cuts of beef depend on how much fat and cholesterol the cut contains. Approximately 29 types of beef cuts fall into the extra lean category. The top five cuts are steaks: eye round, sirloin-tip side, top round, bottom round and top sirloin. Steaks labeled “round” typically are the leanest of all cuts.
Check the Label
When choosing the healthiest cut of steak, read the label thoroughly. Some U.S. Department of Agriculture quality beef cuts have “prime” printed on the label. Prime meats tend to have a high fat content. Instead of choosing a prime cut steak, opt for a cut with the label “choice,” “select” or “standard.” According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, "choice" steaks contain moderate amounts of fat and "select" cuts contain slight amounts of fat. Standard beef cuts are practically devoid of fat, making them the healthiest.
Trimming the Fat
Make a lean cut of steak even healthier by trimming off visible fat before cooking. The University of Illinois’ McKinley Health Center recommends draining the fat from the steak after cooking. Skim the fat from the top of any soups or stews that contain cuts of steak. An easy way to skim the fat is to chill the soup or stew and wait for the fat to harden on top. Simply remove the hardened fat with a small mesh strainer.
- Colorado State University Extension; Cholesterol and Fats; J. Anderson, et al.; December 2008
- University of Nebraska Lincoln: Lean Beef Cuts/Mexican Beef Salad Recipe
- Texas AgriLife Extension Service; Beef Quality and Yield Grades; Dan S. Hale, et al.; February 2010
- University of Illinois’ McKinley Health Center: Facts About Fat