Although fat in the diet is important for your health -- it helps provide energy and absorb important fat-soluble nutrients -- you need to monitor how much cholesterol you eat. Steak is a source of cholesterol, but the grade of the meat,farming method, cooking style and cut all can affect cholesterol content.
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Cut and Cholesterol
Beef steaks come from different parts of the animal, which affects fat and cholesterol content. Rib steaks, as the name indicates, come from meat attached to the ribs. Flank steak is from meat on the animal’s side, closer to the belly and hindquarters. Round steak comes from the rump. A raw beef round steak, trimmed of fat, has 52 milligrams of cholesterol in 3 ounces of meat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rib steak, however, has more; 3 ounces of raw rib steak contains 60 milligrams of cholesterol.
Grade and Cholesterol
Grade also affects fat and cholesterol content. Grading takes into account characteristics such as texture, firmness, color and the amount of marbling, which is the fat interspersed with the lean meat. Texas A&M University notes that select beef, for example, has only slight marbling, while choice beef has moderate marbling. The USDA states that 3 ounces of select broiled ribeye steak contains 65 milligrams of cholesterol, while 3 ounces of choice broiled ribeye steak contains 68 milligrams of cholesterol.
Cooking methods can have some effect on cholesterol in a steak. Methods that allow fat to drain during cooking -- such as grilling or broiling -- can result in a lower fat and cholesterol content. Braising -- a cooking method in which the meat's cooked in liquid -- can also change the cholesterol content of a steak. The USDA reports 3 ounces of braised choice beef flank steak has 61 milligrams of cholesterol. Three ounces of broiled choice beef flank steak contains 69 milligrams of cholesterol.
The conventional method of finishing beef is to feed cattle grain for several months to increase the amount of fat and marbling in the meat. Grass-fed beef, however, is raised without grain, which can affect cholesterol content. The USDA notes that 3 ounces of raw, grass-fed ribeye steak contains 42 milligrams of cholesterol, and 3 ounces of raw, grass-fed bottom round steak contains 47 milligrams of cholesterol. Similar amounts of conventionally raised ribeye steak and bottom round steak are higher in cholesterol.
Cholesterol and You
If you're concerned about the amount of cholesterol in your diet or your physician has recommended you decrease your cholesterol intake, you can make different dietary choices. For example, select cuts tend to be lower in cholesterol, as does grass-fed beef. Cooking methods such as braising can also decrease total cholesterol content. You could also eat steak less frequently or in smaller amounts. Make sure your diet is otherwise healthy, with a wide variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.