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What Lean Really Means for Lean Meat

How lean is lean meat? And what’s the difference between lean and extra lean meats? Guidelines have been established so that these terms have clear definitions. Meat, poultry, or seafood must meet certain requirements if the packaging uses these terms:

  • Lean: Each 3 1/2 ounces of the product must contain less than 10 grams of total fat, less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.

  • Extra lean: Contains less than 5 grams of total fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.

Because 4.5 grams is a lot of saturated fat, go extra lean when you can. In terms of fat, nearly all seafood can be considered extra lean.

Red meat doesn’t have to be a high-fat product. Lean red meat contains the same amount of cholesterol and close to the same amount of fat as lean chicken, fish, and turkey. If the red meat doesn’t say lean, buy dense cuts, such as top round, or any red meat that looks lean, such as tenderloin, London broil, ham, or Canadian bacon that has no visible fat.

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