How meat and poultry fit in your healthy diet

When you follow these methods to cut the fat, meat and poultry can be both a tasty and healthy part of your diet.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Meat and poultry can be valuable sources of protein and other important nutrients, but they can also be sources of unhealthy fat and cholesterol. And meat and poultry with more fat tend to be tastier — something chefs know, which is why they often use higher fat cuts of meat and poultry in their recipes.

But before you copy their recipes, consider this: With a few simple tricks and tips, you can have it both ways — taste and health. Learn how to choose the healthiest selections of meat and poultry and how to prepare them using low-fat methods. With these tips, you can reduce the fat even in higher fat marbled cuts.

Selecting meat and poultry

  • Look for lean cuts. Certain cuts of meat and poultry are lower in fat. Lean cuts of beef include round, chuck, sirloin and tenderloin. Lean pork or lamb includes tenderloin, loin chops and leg. The leanest poultry is white meat from the breast with no skin.
  • Check percentages. When buying ground beef, look for packages with the highest percentage of lean meat — 90 percent or higher.
  • Watch the ground. Ground poultry can have as much fat as ground beef has, or more, because it often includes dark meat and skin. To make the leanest choice, choose ground breast meat, or look for low-fat ground chicken or turkey.
  • Be selective. Choose beef that is labeled "Choice" or "Select" instead of "Prime," which usually has more fat. If you can't resist choosing the higher fat choices, use them as an occasional indulgence rather than a regular option.
Feb. 18, 2014 See more In-depth