Is Ground Beef Bad For You?

Ground beef has gotten a bad reputation lately. It is often considered one of the worst ground meat options, with ground turkey and chicken being hailed as better alternatives. But is it really as bad for you as you've been led to believe? Here's what you should know.

According to Livestrong, one of the most questionable parts of ground beef is its saturated fat content. This type of meat is much higher in saturated fat than other poultry or plant-based options. A diet high in saturated fat can increase your risk of high cholesterol, which may increase your risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your saturated fat intake under 13 grams per day (via American Heart Association). The amount of saturated fat in ground beef can vary greatly, so it is important that you read the label carefully to know how much you're getting in one serving size.

According to Eat This, Not That!, eating a lot of ground beef can also increase inflammation in the body, reduce focus, increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer, and shorten your lifespan.

The nutritional information of ground beef

According to Nutrition Data, one 3-ounce serving of 80% lean ground beef contains 231 calories, with 133 of those coming from fat and 98 coming from protein. Ground beef does not contain any carbohydrates, but one serving does contain 23 grams of protein and almost 15 grams of fat, including 5.6 grams of saturated fat and 6.5 grams of monosaturated fat. When shopping for ground beef, it's important to pay attention to the fat content. Leaner ground beef has less fat and calories, while ground beef with a higher fat content will be juicier and more flavorful, but is less healthy.

Beef also contains several compounds that perform important functions in the body, including creatine, taurine, glutathione, and conjugated linoleic acid (via Healthline). Although ground beef contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, compounds, and nutrients that are important for your health, it is not recommended that you eat it every day. According to World Cancer Research Fund International, adults should limit themselves to three portions (12 to 18 ounces total) of red meat each week.

Ground beef isn't pure evil

That all being said, most of ground beef's negative effects come from eating a substantial amount every day. When eaten in moderation, this food can offer many health benefits. For one, it is extremely high in protein. According to Eat This, Not That!, an average-sized burger made with 80% lean and 20% fat ground beef contains about 20 grams of protein. That's almost half the recommended daily amount for a sedentary male or female.

According to Healthline, red meat is "one of the most nutritious foods you can eat." It contains vitamins B3, B12, and B6, as well as iron, zinc, selenium, and other vitamins and minerals in small amounts. Red meat also has creatine and carnosine, which are two nutrients that can affect muscle and brain function. Ground beef can also boost the immune system, help your body build cells, support hormone production, and replenish your iron stores (via Verywell Fit). Grass-fed beef is the most nutritious and tends to contain the least amount of hormones or additives.

Ground beef vs ground turkey: which is better?

There are many benefits to including ground beef as part of a healthy diet. Ground beef is an excellent source of protein, iron, and other nutrients. It can also be a good source of healthy fats, depending on the type of ground beef you choose. However, there are also some drawbacks to eating ground beef. It is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can increase your risk for heart disease and other health problems. Ground beef also tends to be higher in calories than other types of meat.

According to Healthline, ground beef and ground turkey have similar nutrient profiles. However, turkey has less saturated fat and slightly more protein than beef, making it a better option for those trying to lose weight or who are concerned about their heart health. These meats contain different vitamins and minerals as well. Beef is higher in iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, while turkey is higher in other B vitamins. The option that is better for you will depend on your nutritional needs and goals.

How you cook ground beef matters

Ground beef is a staple in many American households, and you can maximize its health benefits by cooking it the right way. Avoid adding too much oil, cream, or fat to ground beef dishes, as this can increase the amount of saturated fat you eat to unhealthy levels. Baked ground beef is a low-fat, low-calorie way to enjoy this classic dish. Zucchini meatloaf is a great way to prepare a traditional comfort dish in a healthier way. Thanks to plenty of spices and seasonings, you won't even notice that this recipe is good for you.

Ground beef can also be used to make delicious low-carb turkey meatballs. While most meatball recipes contain a hefty amount of breadcrumbs, these are held together without the need for so many extra carbs. But don't worry, you can make up for that by adding plenty of spaghetti and garlic bread to your plate. You can also use lean ground beef to make tasty hamburgers, seasoned chili, and delicious tacos. Just be sure to add plenty of vegetables to whatever dish you're serving to make it a well-rounded meal.