Incorporating Beef Into A Healthy Diet!

There are so many cuts and brands of beef that it's hard to tell which are the smart cuts to buy. There are multiple names and vague labels for every cut that confuse even the well-intentioned consumer. Learn the truth!

Did you know there are a lot more to ways to eat beef than just burgers and steaks? Many people trying to eat a leaner diet mistakenly avoid beef because they are under the false impression that beef is fattening. The truth is, they simply just do not understand how to buy the right cuts nor understand the variety of techniques you can use to keep beef a part a healthy diet. You can successfully incorporate red meat into a healthy by educating yourself on the most basic elements of buying & cooking beef.

There are so many cuts and brands of beef that it's hard to tell which are the smart cuts to buy. There are multiple names and vague labels for every cut that confuse even the well-intentioned consumer. It is entirely possible that a person avoids beef altogether because they simply do not know which meats are leaner or of better quality. These guidelines should help you understand the basic principles of buying beef.

Selecting Cuts & Brands

One of the easiest ways to choose leaner cuts is to look for special labeling on the packages. Look for the American Heart Association's "heart healthy" logo, or a "USDA lite"/"USDA light" sticker on the meat. The American Heart Association Guidelines that defines extra lean beef as a 4 oz. serving which contains: 5 g total fat or less with 2 g or less coming from saturated fat and less than 95 mg cholesterol.

Most often, these choices are special brands from cattle farms that specialize in producing leaner "natural", 'free-range", or "hormone-free" beef. Examples of some national "light" brands are: Laura's Lean Beef, Naturalite, and some Cattleman's Collection special cuts. This type of beef is even leaner, lower in calories, and lower in fat than regular brands. Another added benefit of "light" beef is that it cooks in 1/3 less time!

Don't Be Misled By Tricky Labeling

Prime, Choice, and Select "grades" of beef are indicative descriptions of a cut's leanness, palatability, and age of the animal from which it was cut. "Select" cuts are leaner than "choice" cuts and "choice" cuts are leaner than "prime" cuts. Select cuts will appear less marbled when compared against a prime cut and will therefore not be as tender or juicy as choice or prime cuts selections that will have a higher marble (fat) content.

Prime grades are aged and generally sold in fine restaurants. Select and Choice grades can be found in the grocery store and other restaurants but keep in mind that "select" cuts are the leanest. If you like the tenderness that comes with higher fat cuts, simple learn to work around the leanness of certain cuts with the use of marinades and simple cooking techniques.

Beef On A Budget

Since extra lean beef is a higher quality it is sold at premium prices but this doesn't mean you should avoid purchasing lean cuts of beef. Remember that:

  • You are not paying for fatty marble or pieces of fat-but pure beef protein that you can eat instead of throwing in the trash.
  • Make it a rule to never buy meat except when it's on sale. Every grocery chain will have weekly meat sales to draw people into the store so watch the ad circulars for sales.
  • Talk to the butcher and ask if he knows what cuts will be on sale the following week.
  • Ask the butcher or meat clerk what time they mark down the day's meat. Stopping by at that time can yield savings of over 50%.
  • Freeze what you won't be using right away to reduce waste.

Lightening Fast Fajitas - (serves 4)

Fajitas as served in a restaurant are usually a great treat. This is a cheat version of fajitas that you can make when you don't have time to make traditional fajitas.


1 lb. Flank steak (cut in strips or small pieces)
1 large green pepper, cut in strips
1 red pepper, cut in strips
1 medium yellow onion, cut in strips
3 cloves pressed garlic
1 tsp chili powder
Lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper to taste


Saut� garlic in a bit of lemon juice for 1 minute in large wok or skillet. Add beef and chili powder and cook until beef is cooked near to the temperature you desire. Add peppers and onions and cook until vegetables are mostly soft, raising the heat for a short time if you like the vegetables slightly charred. Top with salsa or fat-free sour cream if desired.

Per Serving

Calories - 139.5
Carbs - 7g
Protein - 25g
Fat - 3.75g
Fiber - 1.4g

Click Here For A Printable Version Of This Recipe!

Note: This is part one, click here for part two!
click here for part three!