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Meat, Poultry, Fish, Beans, and Nuts in Your Healthy Diet

Many dieters think that if they cut out meat, they cut out calories. Unfortunately, they often substitute high-fat cheese, nuts, and nut butters for protein. Without meat, getting enough zinc and iron — two nutrients that help maintain your energy and performance — is tough.

Don’t shortchange yourself nutritionally by making sacrifices that don’t help. Shop smart instead. See the suggestions that follow:

  • Some of the leanest cuts of beef are flank, sirloin, and tenderloin. The leanest pork is fresh, whole canned hams, cured, and boiled ham. Canadian bacon, pork tenderloin, rib chops, and roast are also on the lean side. Lean lamb includes roasts, chops, and legs; white-meat poultry is lower in fat than dark.

  • Meat labeled select is leaner than meat graded choice.

  • Turkey or chicken skin is high in fat and calories. When you shop, look for a label that reads ground turkey or chicken meat for the lowest fat. Or better yet, look for a label that reads ground turkey breast, which is lower still.

  • Self-basting turkeys have fat injected into the meat. Dieters should avoid them.

  • Buy water-packed tuna and sardines rather than those packed in oil.

  • Buy only fresh seafood or seafood that’s frozen without added breading or frying.

  • Cold cuts should be lowfat. Turkey and chicken franks don’t always have fewer calories than beef or pork; check the labels.

  • A half-cup of beans or 3 ounces of tofu equals a serving of protein. Check the ingredient list for calcium sulfate. Tofu processed with it is a good source of calcium.

  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter counts nutritionally as an ounce of meat, but at 190 calories and 16 grams of fat, it’s hardly a dieter’s best bet. Even reduced-fat peanut butter has 12 grams of fat, and because it has added sugar, the reduced-fat and regular versions have the same number of calories.

When well done, the nutritional difference between a burger made with regular ground beef and one made with extra lean doesn’t amount to much. When broiled on a rack or grilled, about 2 ounces of fat drips out of the regular meat. Lean meat loses a similar amount of weight, but it’s fat plus water.

A well-done burger made with 4 ounces of regular ground beef or chuck has only 12 calories more than a same-size, extra-lean burger, and has almost the same number of calories as one made with lean ground beef. The big difference is in price and flavor — regular ground beef or chuck wins on both counts.

Raw Cooked, Well Done
Ground Beef Calories Fat (Grams) Calories Fat (Grams)
Extra lean (17% fat) 264 19 186 11
Lean (21% fat) 298 23 196 12
Regular (chuck) (27% fat) 350 30 198 13
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