For a Healthy Heart Part 1

Protein is an important part of your eating plan. Protein-based foods include meat (beef, pork, lamb, and veal) poultry and seafood, along with vegetable-based protein foods, such as beans, legumes and tofu. Many people know that eating more beans is good for them, but have questions about how to choose healthy, leaner cuts of meat, poultry and fish. You may feel confused when you’re in the grocery store, as there are so many cuts of meat, poultry and fish. Some are clearly better for you than others. Lets take a look.

Beef

Beef is not only a great source of protein, it contains iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. But it can also be high in saturated fat, the kind of fat that may raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol level and your risk for heart disease. So while beef may be “what’s for dinner,” your best option is to choose as lean a cut of beef as you can get. The USDA defines lean and extra lean cuts of beef as follows:

Lean: Less than 10 grams of fat or fewer and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5-ounce serving.

Extra lean: Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams or fewer of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5-ounce serving. A great way to get a lean cut of beef is to choose one of these from your local market:

Eye Round

Top Round

Round Tip

Sirloin

Tenderloin

Top Loin

You can also choose beef by its grade, which refers to how much marbling, or streaking of fat, is in the meat. The grades you’ll see most often in the meat case are prime, choice and select. The higher the grade, the more tender and fattier the meat. Go for choice or select cuts of beef and save the fattier prime cuts for special events. Keep in mind, thought, that leaner cuts of meat can be tough. To make them more tender, try one of these “moist” cooking methods:

Braising: Browning the meat in a small amount of oil, then adding liquid, covering and simmering on the stove or cooking in the oven.

Cooking in liquid: Cook meat in liquid in a stew or in a slow-cooker. If you’d rather broil or grill your beef, first marinate it in an acidic liquid, such as vinegar, lemon juice, wine or yogurt, for at least eight hours before cooking. Using a marinade helps tough cuts more tender. If you prefer a hamburger over a piece of steak, choose ground beef that’s at least 90% lean. Even better, try to look for ground beef that is 93% or 95% lean.

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