Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce
Choose Lean Ground Beef for Better Health
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist in Barton County, University of Missouri Extension
While shopping at the grocery store, it is easy to spend a long time at the meat counter trying to make a decision about which package of ground beef to buy. There are percentages written on the package and there is a big price difference. For health, it is best to purchase the leanest ground beef. If that is too hard on your wallet, there are ways you can decrease the fat in ground beef.
Believe it or not, hamburger meat and ground beef are two different things. Hamburger meat is allowed to have fat that has been added and ground beef has only the fat that occurs naturally in the beef. No ground meat is allowed to contain more than 30% of fat. Four ounces of 70% lean (30% fat) ground meat contains around 34 grams of fat. That’s 306 calories from the fat alone in that one little hamburger patty.
A package of ground beef may state that it is lean or extra lean. Lean ground beef contains no more than 10% fat. Four ounces of lean ground beef has around 11 grams of fat. Extra lean ground beef contains no more than 5% fat. The fat is decreased to around 6 grams of fat.
The amount of fat listed on the label is the amount of fat the raw ground beef contains. You can decrease the amount of fat in the way you prepare the beef. Broiling ground beef helps to decrease fat because the fat drips away from the meat as it is cooking. Many ground beef recipes call for pan frying the ground beef. Whether you are frying in crumbles or in patties, you can decrease the amount of fat by as much as half by placing the cooked ground beef on two or three paper towels. Let the fat drip out and then turn the meat over and allow the fat to drain from the other side. It is impossible to do this in a casserole where the raw ground beef is added with other ingredients. It is best to buy the extra lean ground beef for those recipes.
Ground beef is a staple in many households. That’s understandable because it is a good source of protein, is very versatile and is less expensive than other meats. Keep in mind that it can be a significant source of fat and prepare it in ways that decrease the fat by as much as possible.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009