IT USED TO be practically a taboo to admit you liked beef, but guess what? This quintessential protein is healthier than you thought. It turns out that beef isn’t just OK to eat—it’s actually good for you, says Carolyn O’Neil, M.S., R.D. Take a look at what lean ground beef is packing:
- It’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, including zinc, vitamin B6, and alpha lipoic acid. These are responsible for creating antibodies and keeping blood sugar levels in check.
- A 3oz serving of 95% lean ground beef has just 164 calories and 4.5g of fat, but offers up 24g of protein.
- Ground beef is also rich in iron, a multitasking mineral that boosts energy and keeps muscles working properly.
Now, we know. You’re worried about eating red meat too often. But relax, says O’Neil. You can safely eat lean red meat up to twice a week—just make sure you choose the right stuff at the supermarket. Go for at least 90% lean beef, because leaner beef is lower in fat and calories—but maintains almost the same protein content as fattier ones. Score.
Ready to add a little red into your meals? These seven ideas will make your mouth (and body) happy.
1. The classic burger
While ordering a burger when you’re eating out is rarely a healthy choice, it’s a smart pick when it’s prepared at home. Making your own burgers means you can get more of the ingredients you love without the excess calories. Unconvinced? Try this ultra-lean bacon cheeseburger. Don’t say we never did anything for you.
2. Comfort food lightened
Lean ground beef has natural fat, so it doesn’t need a lot of extra cooking oil, a common mistake among beef lovers. Cooking comfort food like this meatloaf recipe in the oven satisfies cravings without adding any sneaky extras, or simply sub it into your favorite chili recipe.
3. Souped-up sauce
Turns out lean ground beef is a freeloader; if you put it in a sauce it’ll soak up all the delicious flavors without any extra work. When making meatballs, instead of pan-searing them, let them simmer and cook fully in your spaghetti sauce—or whip up these sweet and sour meatballs for extra tender beef without any excess fat from oil.
5. Meaty pizza
Instead of the usual greasy meat toppings like pepperoni or sausage, try sprinkling some cooked lean ground beef on your pizza instead. It’ll provide meaty flavor along with protein and iron. To make it even healthier, buy a store-prepared whole-wheat crust and make your own pizza pie at home.
6. Power breakfast
Take your breakfast burrito up a notch. Toss cooked lean ground beef in a pan along with scrambled eggs, onions, and spinach. Feeling spicy? Add some hot sauce. Bundle it all up in a whole-grain tortilla for a protein-packed start to the day.
7. Stuffed peppers
Brown that lean ground beef and mix it with other fit foods like zucchini, brown rice, and tomatoes. Then, stuff it in a bell pepper—that puppy is loaded with vitamin C, which actually helps your body absorb all the red meat’s iron. (Don’t want to wing it? Try this easy recipe for Stuffed Peppers Estia.)