What are heart-healthy beef cuts?

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Lean cuts of beef

The USDA defines a lean cut of beef as a 3.5-ounce serving (about 100 grams) that contains less than:

  • 10 grams total fat
  • 4.5 grams saturated fat
  • 95 milligrams cholesterol

Extra-lean cuts of beef

The USDA defines an extra-lean cut of beef as a 3.5-ounce serving (about 100 grams) that contains less than:

  • 5 grams total fat
  • 2 grams saturated fat
  • 95 milligrams cholesterol

Note that these nutrition labels aren't the same as grading beef. Grading beef is a voluntary program under the USDA that manufacturers can use to judge the perceived quality of their product.

Selecting cuts of beef Cuts of beef

Twenty-nine cuts of beef now meet the USDA's regulations to qualify as lean or extra lean. Of those 29 cuts of beef, these are considered extra lean:

  • Eye of round roast or steak
  • Sirloin tip side steak
  • Top round roast and steak
  • Bottom round roast and steak
  • Top sirloin steak
Choosing the right cut of beef and enjoying proper portions can make it easy to add beef to a heart-healthy eating plan.

Choose cuts of beef that aren't heavily marbled and appear redder in color. Good beef choices include:
  • Eye of the round
  • Top round
  • Top loin
  • Sirloin tip steak
Once you've settled on a lean cut of beef, remember portion sizes: a three-ounce piece of beef is about the size of a deck of cards. If you generally eat larger pieces, enjoy it less often or stretch it out by adding vegetables to a kabob or mix meat with pasta or rice.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.