Whether you are concerned with weight loss, heart health or just your health in general, being aware of the healthiest meats to consume is a good idea. There is often confusion around which meats are healthy to eat and which should be avoided, and there is no ranking of meats in order of healthiness.
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The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides eight healthy eating goals to help people choose the best foods to include in their diets and in what amounts. Information is provided on how to choose meat, poultry, fish and other protein to keep you healthy.
Lowering your intake of red meat can be beneficial, but it is still acceptable to eat beef and pork in cuts such as sirloin, loin and round. Keep your portion size at 2 to 3 ounces.
Which Meat Should You Eat?
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends choosing lean cuts of ground beef labeled 90 percent lean or higher. The American Heart Association conveys that eating meat is fine, but it is best to choose leaner cuts and keep portion sizes to 2 to 3 ounces. Examples of lean cuts of meat are usually those that say sirloin, loin or round on the labels.
According to the USDA, a top sirloin beef steak contains only 4.3 grams of fat, 1.6 grams saturated fat and 150 calories in a 3-ounce serving. The same serving offers 26.2 grams of protein. This 3-ounce portion of healthy beef steak provides 44 percent of your recommended daily value of zinc and 52 percent of your recommended daily value of B12. It also contains plenty of vitamins B3 and B6, as well as choline and selenium. Similar benefits are found in beef round and 97 percent lean ground beef.
Pork is also a healthy option when cuts such as tenderloin and loin are chosen. Roasted pork tenderloin contains only 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat and 122 calories in a 3-ounce serving. Pork loin is similar, but contains more fat at 11.8 grams and 4.4 grams saturated fat. Nutrition-wise, a 3-ounce serving of pork tenderloin offers 22.2 grams of protein, 19 percent of the recommended daily value of zinc and 20 percent of the recommended daily value of B12, as well as phosphorus and selenium in high amounts.
Healthy Meats for Weight Loss
Choosing the healthiest meats in the cuts recommended above — sirloin, loin and round — will help you to eat well for weight loss. The AHA also recommends trimming the fat off your meat before cooking it, as well as removing the liquid fat leftover from the cooking process before eating.
Cooking methods can help to create healthier meals, too, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Baking, broiling, roasting and stewing are favorable options for meat. The AHA urges limiting your intake of processed red meats such as bacon, salami, hot dogs, ham, deli slices and beef jerky. Remember to keep portion sizes at 2 to 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards, at each meal.
The National Academy of Medicine recommends adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, which equates to a little over 7 grams for every 20 pounds of body weight. For the best chances of weight loss, the American Council on Exercise provides the tip that eating a high-protein breakfast is good practice. Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism by breaking the long fast during sleep. Eating 20 to 30 grams of protein for breakfast is ideal, says ACE.
- American Heart Association: "Meat, Poultry, and Fish: Picking Healthy Proteins"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "How to Eat Healthy"
- My Food Data: "Nutrition Facts for Beef Top Sirloin Steak Separable Lean Only Trimmed To 0 Inch Fat Select Cooked Broiled"
- My Food Data: "Nutrition Facts for Broiled Beef Round"
- My Food Data: "Nutrition Facts for Broiled Ground Beef Patty (97% Lean)"
- My Food Data: "Nutrition Facts for Roasted Pork Tenderloin"
- My Food Data: "Nutrition Facts for Pork Loin"
- National Academy of Medicine: "Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients"
- American Council on Exercise: "16 Diet Tips for Losing Weight"