You may think of a meatball as an unhealthy diet choice, but it doesn't have to be. While the Italian meatball -- typically made with beef, eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, herbs and spices -- may be high in fat and calories, you can make a healthier version using extra lean ground beef, lean ground turkey or even a meat substitute such as soy. You may even be able to find a healthy meatball in the frozen food section of your grocery store.
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Serving Size and Calories
A typical meatball serving size is about 3 oz, or 3 to 5 meatballs depending on the size of the actual meatball. Homemade meatballs made with beef contain about 343 calories per serving, while homemade recipes made with turkey contain about 73 calories per 1 oz. meatball. A 3.2 oz. serving of Kirkland brand frozen beef meatballs contains 230 calories. A 3.3 oz. serving of meatless meatballs contains 197 calories.
Animal-based products contain all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein. Healthy adult women need 46 g of protein per day, and healthy adult men need 56 g of protein per day. Like calories, the protein content in meatballs vary depending on the recipe and meatball size. A serving of homemade beef meatballs contains 31 g of protein. A homemade serving of turkey meatballs contains 6.2 g of protein per meatball. A 3.2 oz. serving of Kirkland brand frozen meatballs contains 14 g of protein. A 3.3 oz. serving of meatless meatballs contains 21 g of protein.
The fat content in meatballs depends on the type of meat you use. Choose leaner cuts, such as 93 percent lean ground beef or lean ground turkey, to limit your fat intake. Homemade meatballs made with extra lean ground meat contains 16.8 g of total fat. One homemade turkey meatball contains 4.5 g of fat. A 3.2 oz serving of Kirkland brand frozen beef meatballs contains 15 g of fat. A 3.3 oz serving of meatless meatballs contains 9 g of fat.
Healthy people need 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Most people consume more than twice that each day, according to the American Heart Association. Sodium content varies in meatball recipes. To limit the sodium content in homemade meatballs omit any added salt and use unseasoned bread crumbs. A serving of homemade beef meatballs contains 940 mg of sodium. One homemade turkey meatball contains 73 mg of sodium. A 3.2 oz. serving of Kirkland brand beef meatballs contains 680 mg of sodium. A 3.3 oz. serving of meatless meatballs contains 792 mg of sodium.