Twenty Nine Lean Cuts of Beef Help You "Eat Smart"

There are many misconceptions about what "eating smart" is, especially about red meat.  Lean red meat can be easily incorporated into the diet, as there are a variety of lean cuts available in the meat case. There are at least 29 cuts of beef that meet the government labeling guidelines for lean or extra lean.

According to government guidelines, a serving qualifies as "extra lean" if it has less than 5g total fat, 2g or less saturated fat and less than 95mg cholesterol per 3.5 oz. serving. A serving qualifies as "lean" if it has less than 10g total fat, 4.5g or less saturated fat and less than 95mg cholesterol per 3.5 oz. serving. In addition to the cuts listed on the chart below, 95% lean/5% fat ground beef is also considered lean.

Researchers say that consumers looking for the leanest cuts should opt for those with the word loin or round in the name, like sirloin and eye of round. Trimming excess fat before cooking reduces fat up to 50 percent and added fat can be kept to a minimum by using low-fat cooking methods, such as broiling, grilling and roasting, or moist-heat cooking methods such as braising and stewing. Consumers should also remember that a 3-ounce portion of lean meat is equal in size to a deck of cards.

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There are many other ways to help yourself eat healthier without making any drastic changes, and still include all the foods you enjoy!  Moderation, a few simple modifications in the way you prepare and choose food and physical activity choices are the key to staying healthy.  Here are a few tips:

Eat a variety of foods - Enjoy foods from all the food groups.

Choose the leanest cuts - When buying beef, choose the leanest cuts and trim off all visible fat before cooking. To select the leanest cuts of beef, look for the word "round" or "loin" in the name, such as top sirloin, top round, ground round and tenderloin.

Cook it right - Use low-fat cooking methods such as roasting, broiling and grilling instead of frying or sautéing in butter. Another idea: After browning, rinse ground beef under warm, running water and dry with a paper towel to eliminate excess fat.

Enjoy 5 a day - Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Example: Drink a small glass of juice or eat a piece of fruit before leaving for work. Keep fruit washed and visible in the refrigerator so it's always within easy reach.

Get active - No discussion of living a healthy lifestyle is complete without stressing the importance of physical activity. Again, the simple things can be the best for your health. A brisk 30 minute walk when you get home from work every day will do wonders for the mind and body. And speaking of work: park your car farther from the office than you usually do. That way, you can build a healthy walk into your workday. Work toward 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

Plan your snacking - Bring healthy, low-fat snacks such as pretzels, yogurt or fruit to work to eat at a specific time. Packages of carrots, broccoli or cauliflower are convenient ways to make your way to five a day. Avoid the candy jar.

Another great way to help yourself eat healthier is to check out My Plate. Developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, My Plate is a flexible, general guideline on what to eat each day to get the nutrition you need. 

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