Hamburgers, steaks, and sirloins, oh my!

Posted on October 28, 2011


Whenever I tell someone what my job is, they get defensive and respond with something along the lines of “Oh, I’m bad; I sometimes eat hamburgers.” or “Don’t hate me, but I eat red meat.”

Yeah, so do I…

Red meat is not the enemy. There are a lot of different cuts of red meat that can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Not only does red meat fit in a healthy diet, but it provides iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, selenium, niacin, and zinc. It is also a great source of high-quality protein. However, to get the most benefits out of red meat consumption you should do a few things:

  • Make sure to choose a lean cut of meat.
    • The USDA grading system can help you make your choice – “Prime” cuts contain the highest amount of fat, so try to avoid these.  “Select” cuts will be your leanest options of meat.
    • Grass-fed beef is usually leaner than grain-fed beef.
  • Limit portion sizes. Be sure to stick to less than 18 ounces per week. Having more than that ups your risk for developing health problems like heart disease and cancer.
    • While I’m on that subject, limit processed meats (like cured bacon, hot dogs, lunch meat – anything that has nitrates or nitrites in them)! Luckily, it’s easier to find products that are nitrate and nitrite free.
  • Be careful when cooking meat since it can cause harmful carcinogens (compounds that can cause harm to your body) to form.
    • Choose lean meats – fat can cause flare-ups that will char the meat
      • Trim fat from meat before cooking.
    • Marinate before cooking. Use a lower/no sugar marinade because sugar can also cause flare-ups
    • Limit high-heat cooking. Use lower temperatures when grilling, and avoid frying.
    • Do not over-cook or char meat.  Remove any charred areas after cooking.

Image: Maggie Smith / Source: Maggie Smith on

There are many options for a lean cut of beef:

  • When you’re at the grocery store lean options include sirloin steak, flank steak, strip steak, and lean ground beef (with less than 6% fat).
  • If you are at a restaurant filet mignon, strip steak, top sirloin, and a t-bone steak are all good choices.
    • Make sure you leave off the butter and added sauces; add vegetables instead.
    • Oh, and stick to a reasonable sized portion. A serving size is 4 ounces, but it can be triple that at restaurants. Eat half or a portion that is about the size of a deck of cards.

Here is a link to a downloadable list of lean cuts of beef – 29 Lean Cuts of Beef. Don’t forget that the nutrition stats are for 3-ounces of meat, so don’t eat a large portion!

Here is a list of the 29 Lean Cuts of Beef from the Beef It’s What’s For Dinner website. They have some good recipes on there, too.

  • Eye Round Roast and Steak
  • Sirloin Tip Side Steak
  • Top Round Roast and Steak
  • Bottom Round Roast and Steak
  • Top Sirloin Steak
  • Brisket, Flat Half
  • 95% Lean Ground Beef
  • Round Tip Roast and Steak
  • Round Steak
  • Shank Cross Cuts
  • Chuck Shoulder Pot Roast
  • Sirloin Tip Center Roast and Steak
  • Chuck Shoulder Steak
  • Bottom Round (Western Griller) Steak
  • Top Loin (Strip) Steak
  • Shoulder Petite Tender and Medallions
  • Flank Steak
  • Shoulder Center (Ranch) Steak
  • Tri-Tip Roast and Steak
  • Tenderloin Roast and Steak
  • T-Bone Steak

Have a great weekend!