Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who's got beef?

Just some awesome info from our little friends at the FDA.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows a cut of beef to be labeled as lean if it has less than 10 g of total fat, 4.5 g of saturated fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per 3-oz serving (about the size of a deck of cards). Beef can be labeled extra lean if it has less than 5 g of total fat, 2 g of saturated fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per serving. 

Prime or Select? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which creates the Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid, also stamps beef products with quality grades that refer to tenderness, juiciness, and flavor, but don’t confuse use of the term "quality" with wholesomeness. While USDA Prime is the highest quality, the leanest cuts are USDA Select, so these are your best options -- they should have the least amount of fat "marbling" (fat distributed within the lean part) when you look at them. 

USDA Choice cuts have moderate amounts of fat and should be purchased less often. USDA Prime cuts have the highest amounts of fat and are typically served in restaurants rather than sold at supermarkets. Ground beef is stamped with a percentage to indicate its fat content; choose packages that are 90% or more lean. 

All pork sold to the general public is graded USDA Acceptable. (Unacceptable-quality pork, graded U.S. Utility, is not sold in supermarkets.) Today’s pork has considerably less fat than just 10 years ago, as a result of changes in the genetic makeup of breeding stock that produces leaner animals as well as more fat getting trimmed off in processing. Look for cuts that are firm and grayish pink, with a small amount of fat around the outside. 

Normally only two grades of lamb and veal are available to consumers. Choose USDA Choice, which has slightly less fat marbling than USDA Prime. USDA Grade A is the highest grade of poultry and the only one you’re likely to find at a store; simply look for the best-trimmed products you can find. White-meat chicken and turkey with no skin remain your healthiest options, with only up to  g of fat per ounce. 

Also keep in mind that within the various USDA grades of beef, lamb, and pork, certain products are FDA stamped as lean while others that contain more fat are not. So, even though you may be buying a U.S. Select piece of beef, you should still check to see that it says “lean” on the package, too. 

The following are the leanest choices of meat and poultry, to help you make the best selections when planning your meals:

  • Beef: Round steaks and roasts (eye round, top round, bottom round, or round tip), top loin, top sirloin, chuck shoulder, arm roasts, ground round, and ground sirloin (at least 90% lean)
  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, and Cornish hen with no skin (white meat is leaner than dark)
  • Pork: Tenderloin, center loin, pork loin, sausage with 1 g fat per ounce or less, and Canadian bacon
  • Lamb and Veal: Chop or roast
  • Sandwich Meats: Lean turkey and lean ham
Besides purchasing lean cuts, the way you prepare meats and poultry can help cut additional fat and calories. Trim off any visible fat or skin before cooking meats and poultry, and don’t dip them in batter or slather them in butter or creamy sauces. You should bake, broil, grill, roast, steam, or boil; don’t fry. Drain excess fat while cooking by placing the meat on a rack in a pan or by using a grill with a slanted surface to encourage fat drainage.

Lots of good stuff here also.

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