The healthiest way to prepare steak

“Plant-based diets” have been a health buzzword for some time, and more and more people are giving up or limiting meat, especially red meat, because of the potential health risks or because of concerns about the impact of conventional livestock farming on the environment.

Still, the occasional steak can feel like a treat, and it has some nutritional benefits too: things like iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.

When it comes to your health, the impact of red meat largely depends on how much you eat.

“The link between meat and chronic disease is nuanced,” says Sarah Anzlovar, RDN, a Boston-based dietitian at Intuitive Nutrition for Moms. “Ultimately, diets high in red meat are associated with an increased risk of many cancers, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and more.” However, the research linking red meat to poor health outcomes is quite weak.

And, Anzlovar adds, that doesn’t mean red meat alone leads to these results. Research has shown that people who eat a lot of red meat often have other risk factors for chronic diseases, such as smoking, not doing much physical activity and cutting back on fruits and vegetables.

“My advice is to consume as little processed meat as possible and eat fresh meat in small portions,” says Christine M. Palumbo, RDN, a nutrition consultant from Naperville, Illinois.

If you decide to enjoy a steak occasionally, there are other ways to ensure it’s as healthy as possible, from the specific cut you choose to the way you prepare and cook it. Consider this the ultimate guide for health-conscious steak lovers.

Health benefits of steak

“Beef, including steak, provides more than ten essential nutrients and a significant amount of protein,” says Palumbo. It’s considered a “complete protein,” meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (these are compounds your body uses to make proteins) that your body can’t make on its own.

Just know that “incomplete proteins” (like those found in nuts and vegetables) are still plenty good for you. “The whole idea that a complete protein is ‘better’ is an old myth: As long as you eat a variety of foods, even incomplete proteins, you can easily meet your protein needs,” says Anzlovar.

One of the reasons steak, like other red meats, often gets a bad rap is the high amount of saturated fat it contains. But not all steak has the same amount or type of fat. There are cuts of beef that qualify as lean choices.

For example, here is the nutritional breakdown for a 3-ounce serving of sirloin steak (which is considered lean meat) with the visible fat trimmed:

  • Calories: 186
  • Protein: 25 grams (g)
  • Fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 0
  • Vitamin B12: 1.6 micrograms (µg)
  • Zinc: 4.4 milligrams (mg)
  • Selenium: 26.8 µg
  • Niacin: 6.7 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.5 mg
  • Phosphorus: 185 mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.1 mg
  • Iron: 1.7 mg
  • Choline: 93.5 mg

How to buy the healthiest steak

If you tend to feel overwhelmed every time you go to the meat aisle at your grocery store, you’re not alone. These tips can help you get the most nutritious bang for your buck when choosing steak.

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