Meat and poultry are sources of high-quality protein and vitamins and minerals, but research shows that animal-protein-centered meals are not healthful. Numerous studies link meat-centered diets to a higher risk of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer—especially when the meat is processed into bacon, ham, smoked sausages, etc.
As a general rule, it’s best to shift toward a plant-based diet. When you do eat meat and poultry, limit the portion to about 3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards.
Strategies for consumers who want to limit the saturated fat content of meat:
For the leanest cuts, buy “round” or “loin” cuts of beef, pork and lamb, cuts such as top round, bottom round, top sirloin, and tenderloin.
Buy USDA “Choice” grade meats, which have less fat and marbling for grilling or roasting. Buy “Select” grade meats, the leanest grade for stews or to marinate. “Prime” grade meats have the most marbling, meaning they are the most tender because they are the fattest. And remember that unlike beef, pork isn’t marbled. Its fat sits in discreet chunks so you can cut it off before eating.
Buy ground beef that’s at least 90% lean.
Buy ground turkey breast as a substitute for ground beef or pork, but avoid ground turkey—it contains fattier dark meat and skin.
Pay extra for special labels, such as “grass-fed” and “no antibiotics/hormones,” only if the designations have significance for you and if there are regulations to support their integrity.
Sources: University of CA, Berkeley Special Summer Issue, Wellness Letter, 2013