Which cuts of beef are the leanest?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Government food-labeling laws determine which cuts of beef can be called "lean" or "extra-lean" based on fat and cholesterol content.

Nutrition labelingDefinitionCuts included
Lean beef A 3.5-ounce serving (about 100 grams) that contains less than:
  • 10 grams total fat
  • 4.5 grams saturated fat
  • 95 milligrams cholesterol
  • Round steak
  • 95% lean ground beef
  • Chuck shoulder roast
  • Arm pot roast
  • Shoulder steak
  • Strip steak
  • Tenderloin steak
  • T-bone steak
Extra-lean beef A 3.5-ounce serving (about 100 grams)  that contains less than:
  • 5 grams total fat
  • 2 grams saturated fat
  • 95 milligrams cholesterol
  • Eye of round roast
  • Top round steak
  • Mock tender steak
  • Bottom round roast
  • Top sirloin steak

When you're selecting beef, choose cuts labeled "Choice" or "Select" instead of "Prime" — which usually has more fat. Opt for cuts with the least amount of visible fat (marbling). Even then, trim any visible fat before preparing the beef. When you're selecting ground beef, opt for the lowest percentage of fat.

And remember, even when you select the leanest cuts of beef, it's still important to control the total amount of meat in your diet. For adults, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 ounces (170 grams) of lean meat a day — including poultry and fish.

Oct. 10, 2008 See more Expert Answers