Choosing lean cuts of meat

Mar 25, 2022 | Marie Suszynski, Writer | @mariemayohecs



To eat healthy, you want to buy the leanest cuts of meat. Lean meat options deliver flavor without containing a lot of marbled fat. You’ll also be getting more bang for your buck, since lean meats contain more protein per pound than fattier meats. Look for these meats in the grocery store:

  • Poultry — Skinless chicken breast or ground turkey or chicken are the leanest options. Skinless dark meat (thigh) is the second-best option
  • Pork — Tenderloin is the leanest and healthiest option. Your second-best option is loin.
  • Beef — Tenderloin (filet mignon) and 93% lean ground beef are the leanest options. Sirloin is a second-best option.

While these meat options are recommended for maintaining a healthy diet, that doesn’t mean you can never eat other cuts of meat. If you plan to use a fattier meat on occasion, just try to plan the rest of your meal accordingly. Pair a small serving of the meat with a larger portion of vegetables, a flavorful wholegrain carbohydrate, a sprinkling of sharp cheese, or other filling and satisfying ingredients.

When it comes to cooking lean meats, keep in mind that they cook more quickly than fattier cuts of meat. While it’s important to cook meat to a safe internal temperature, your meat will taste best if it’s not overcooked.

Lean meats tend to dry out and get tough when they’re cooked for too long or at too high of heat, tempting you to add extra calories with more oils and sauces. One way to prevent overcooking is to heat meat to about 5 degrees below the required minimum internal temperature. Then turn off the heat and let the meat rest for a few minutes before cutting or serving it. Its internal temperature will keep rising as the carryover heat within the meat continues to cook it. Before serving, check the meat again to ensure it has reached a safe temperature after resting. If not, reapply heat to finish cooking it.


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