What Is the Best Meat to Eat? Meet Your Meat

Jun 3, 2009 | Eating Right

When you are rushing through the supermarket trying to decide what meat to cook for dinner, do you really know what you are looking for? I’m sure you know what tastes great, or what you are comfortable cooking, but what about the health benefits? It is possible your habitual choices could be damaging your health and waistline. I have examined our most popular (and some less popular) meats, and you might find the results surprising!

And the winner is…

Kangaroo meat!!!  For the Aussie readers out there, we grew up watching ‘Skippy’, so now it can be hard to come to terms with eating him! Kangaroo meat has less calories and fat per serve than white fish yet as much iron as red meat and almost as much protein. Skippy really packs a punch in the nutrition stakes! Click here for a Bill Granger marinated kangaroo recipe. They say to treat it as you would beef, however I prefer stews, casseroles and marinades to plain steaks.

Second Place:

White fish. Also extremely low in fat and high in protein, white fish will provide you with some iron, minimal cholesterol and lots of healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

Third and fourth place:

Ostrich, closely followed by chicken breast. I’d like you to note on the chart the vast difference in nutritional value of chicken breasts without the skin versus a BBQ chicken. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because it’s chicken, that it’s good for you!

The Healthiest Meats (Best to Worst)


How I came up with the winners:

These statistics are collected mostly from the calorie king website, both the US and Australian versions. This has been a reliable source of nutritional information, especially for fat and calories. In collating the results, the best cuts of meat are ones that will be;

  • Low in fat, especially saturated fat
  • Low in calories
  • Low in Cholesterol
  • High in protein
  • High in iron

Interesting findings:

  • Ostrich is the US version of Kangaroo, an excellent meat choice. It’s usually in the frozen section of the supermarket and can be cooked exactly the same as beef. I also prefer this in a stew but I have eaten the steak and it’s especially nice marinated in soy sauce.
  • Most elite sports people requiring endurance eat kangaroo or ostrich due to the high iron and protein component. Body builders especially like this meat because it is so lean yet so high in protein.
  • Chicken breast with no skin contained the highest protein on the list with saturated fat remaining nice and low.
  • Pork tenderloin, chicken breasts and bison are very similar nutrition wise. But be sure to eat the right part of the pig because other parts such as pork belly (many people’s favorite!) and roasted ham are extremely fatty.
  • Notice that beef and lamb fall low on the list. Don’t despair, just eat sparingly. Especially lamb. The main problem with these two red meats is that they are high in fat including saturated fat. On the positive side they are also the richest source of iron (behind Kangaroo).
  • Salmon came in a surprising 12th. This is mainly due to its high fat content. Interestingly it is quite low in saturated fat, it’s just the unsaturated fat that tips this fish over the edge. On the positive side, salmon contains a lot more essential omega 3 fatty acids compared to other fish. To compare it to other fish as well as mercury levels, click on this chart. Sword fish and shark are a great alternative to salmon, almost as high in omega-3s yet really low in fat.
  • You have been warned about those greasy BBQ chickens! Check out their stats, 300 calories, 14grams of fat.  Steer clear if you value your health!

The best meats for you:

If weight loss is your goal: The first six on the list. Go for kangaroo, white fish, ostrich, chicken breast, pork tenderloin, or bison (in that order).

If increasing muscle size but staying lean is your goal: Chicken breast, ostrich, white fish, pork tenderloin, or beef.

If you have high cholesterol: White fish, ostrich, kangaroo, or ham.

If you need more iron (intense exercisers, mums to be, tired, pale, and elderly): Kangaroo, beef, or lamb. Click here to find out your daily iron intake recommendation as well as other foods rich in iron.

I suggest finding some recipes and experimenting with your three healthiest meats until you find a dish that’s easy to prepare and tastes good. Remember a good rule of thumb is to eat red meat no more than twice per week. UK Newspaper, The Independent has written a really interesting article on red meat and its effects on your health. Hopefully this will open your eyes the next time you reach the meat section of the supermarket!

Got any recipes you love? Maybe you’ve already converted to the healthier meats. I’d love to hear your thoughts.



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