Preparing meat and poultry
- Trim the fat. Cut off any visible, solid fat from meat and poultry. This includes the skin on poultry. When roasting chicken or turkey, it's OK to leave on the skin for cooking, but remove the skin and the fat underneath before eating. Also, remove any remaining visible fat from pork and beef before eating.
- Use marinades. Marinades tenderize meat and keep it moist while cooking. They can also enhance flavor that may otherwise be lost when you trim fat. Choose low-fat marinades, such as mixtures of herbs or spices with wine, soy sauce or citrus juice.
- Go low. Low-fat cooking methods include grilling, broiling, roasting, sauteing and baking. Cooking melts away much of the fat in meat and poultry. So when you cook meat or poultry in your oven, be sure to put it on a rack on a baking pan so that the fat drips away.
- Skim ahead. Make dishes in which you cook the meat in liquid, such as soups and stews, a day or two in advance and then refrigerate. As the dish chills, the fat hardens on the top and you can easily skim it off.
- Drain the fat. After cooking ground meat, drain the fat from the pan and rinse the meat with hot water. Blot the meat with a paper towel to remove any remaining fat and the water.
- Watch serving sizes. Reducing your portion size reduces your fat and cholesterol intake. Choose 3 ounces (85 grams) of meat. That's about the size of a deck of cards. Three ounces also equals half of a boneless, skinless chicken breast, or one skinless chicken leg with thigh, or two thin slices of lean roast beef.
Eating meat and poultry in moderation
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that most people cut back on saturated fat, which comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat and poultry. When you do eat meat and poultry, choose lean versions. Also, consider eating fish and seafood more often — at least twice a week — instead of meat and poultry. Try a few meatless meals, too.
That's not to say you can't enjoy meat and poultry if you choose. But keep it healthy by selecting lean cuts and using low-fat cooking methods.
Aug. 10, 2016
See more In-depth
- Duyff RL. Kitchen nutrition: Cooking matters. In: American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 4th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons; 2012.
- Meat, poultry and fish. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Meat-Poultry-and-Fish_UCM_306002_Article.jsp#.V3UtrdjbJYU. Accessed June 30, 2016.
- Gerber N, et al. The influence of cooking and fat trimming on the actual nutrient intake from meat. Meat Science. 2009;81:148.
- Vary your protein routine. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-with-protein-foods-variety-is-key Accessed June 30, 2016.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed June 30, 2016.
- Zeratsky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 30, 2016.
- Ground poultry and food safety. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/a28f20b5-5840-4d43-afb3-dac3aa6dbc4d/Ground_Poultry_and_Food_Safety.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. Accessed June 30, 2016.