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Meat and nutrition ... here's a scorecard.

Meat and nutrition . . . here's a scorecard

Our chart compares the calories, fat, and cholesterol of some typical meat cuts. The figures are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new and comprehensive analysis of the nutrient content of meat.

Notice how many cuts, when cooked and trimmed of knife-separable fat, have fewer than 10 grams of fat in a 3-ounce serving. Although nutritionists differ on how much is too much, many agree with the American Heart Association's recommendation that not more than 30 percent of calories come from fat.

How does that 30 percent translate into grams of fat? Allow 9 calories for each gram of fat. If you consume 2,000 calories a day, about 67 grams of fat supplies 30 percent of your calories. A 1,500-calorie diet allows about 50 grams of fat. Allow 5 grams for each 1 teaspoon butter, margarine, oil, mayonnaise, or meat fat you eat or use in preparing a meat dish.

Cholesterol is found in both lean and fat meats, so fatty cuts have about the same amounts of it as lean cuts. But if you are trying to control your blood cholesterol level, it's also important to limit intake of saturated fats, which tend to increase circulating cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting cholesterol to 300 milligrams or less a day. A 3-ounce serving of most meats has 60 to 90 milligrams, roughly a quarter of the recommended amount.

Because meat is so nutrient-dense, a 3-ounce serving provides 20 to 30 grams of protein, 40 to 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance for an average adult. The body doesn't store protein, so it needs a new supply daily: only about 56 grams a day for a 154-pound man, 44 grams for a 121-pound woman.

Three ounces of meat also goes a long way toward supplying some important B vitamins as well as zinc and iron--minerals often lacking in meatless diets. The iron in red meats is in a form that's especially usable by the body, and meat even helps it utilize iron from other sources.

The USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends two roughly 3-ounce servings of lean meat, poultry, fish, or an alternative such as eggs or dry beans in each day's food choices. Two small servings can be used more efficiently than one large serving. Any excess of protein over the body's need is either burned for energy or stored as fat.

To yield a 3-ounce serving, you need about 4 ounces of boneless raw meat, 4 to 8 ounces of many bone-in cuts, as much as 16 ounces of very bony cuts.

Table: Meat cuts
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1987
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