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 also can 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 lemon 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 meat and poultry. When you do eat them, aim for 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.

Feb. 18, 2014 See more In-depth