Which Cuts of Beef are the Leanest?

Lean beef is a nutrient-dense food.  In other words, it is a nutritionally rich food that provides a substantial amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients with relatively few calories. 

It also has many nutritional benefits.  It is a rich source of high quality protein and an excellent source of vitamin B12 and selenium and a good source of vitamin B6 and iron.  And, according to the National Cattleman's Beef Association, the fatty acid profile of beef fat is often misunderstood.  They point out that, in lean beef, 54% of the fatty acids are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the types favored by health professionals.  Also one-third of the saturated fats are stearic acid, which has been shown to be neutral in its effects on blood cholesterol levels.  Also, beef is naturally low in harmful trans-fatty acids.

According to government food labeling laws, "lean" and "extra-lean" beef are defined by the following:

  • Lean beef: A 3.5-ounce serving contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
  • Extra-lean beef: A 3.5-ounce serving contains less than 5 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol

Examples of lean beef include round steak, 95% lean ground beef, chuck shoulder roast, arm pot roast, shoulder steak, strip steak, tenderloin, and T-bone steak. 

Examples of extra-lean beef include: top sirloin, top round, bottom round, and eye of the round.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish per day and the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund recommends no more than 18 ounces (six 3-ounce servings) of red meat per week. 

Follow these tips to help you select the leanest cuts of beef:

  • Choose lean or extra-lean cuts of meat (see above)

  • Choose cuts of beef labeled 90% lean or higher

  • Trim all visible fat before cooking

  • Choose low-fat cooking methods such as grilling, broiling, roasting, sautéing and baking. When you cook lean beef in the oven, put it on a rack on a baking pan and the fat will drip away.

  • Drain fat after cooking.

  • Make soups, stews and other dishes with lean beef a day or two in advance and refrigerate. When chilled, the fat will harden and can be skimmed off of the top.

  • Remember portion sizes matter! Try to stick with a 3- ounce serving. A 3-ounce portion will be about the same size as a deck of cards.




1.      www.mypyramid.gov

2.      www.mayoclinic.com

3.      www.beefboard.org

4.      www.nutrientrichfoods.org

5.      www.beefnutrition.org/