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Leanness of Australian Beef

In Australia, cattle are predominantly pasture-fed, producing beef that is leaner and contains healthier types of fat, including Omega 3.

Findings from a recent survey found that increasing demand for lean meat from consumers has led to a greater range of lean red cuts to choose from in stores.

The average fat content of these popular cuts is:
(1 gram = .035 ounce)

  • Lean beef 4g of fat/100g
  • Lean lamb 6g of fat/100g
  • Lean veal 2g of fat/100g

Not only is Australian Beef lean when trimmed of visible fat, it is also relatively low in unhealthy saturated fats, and is a valuable source of healthy unsaturated fats including long-chain Omega 3 fatty acids. Almost two-thirds of the fat in lean beef is unsaturated fat.

Still, a perception exists that beef is high in total fat and saturated fat—two key factors known to raise blood cholesterol levels and cause heart problems. But the truth is, lean beef can be consumed as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet. In fact, the main contributor to total fat and saturated fat in the Australian diet is not today’s lean Australian Beef, but the fat consumed in fast foods, snacks, oils, spreads, processed foods and the visible fat on untrimmed meat.

What’s more, lean Australian Beef is an important source of protein, essential vitamins and minerals. And, it’s more nutrient-dense than poultry, pork or fish, providing more iron, zinc and vitamin B12.

Nutrient composition (per 100g) of commonly consumed raw white and red lean meat and fish

Nutrients Lean Beef1,3  Lean Lamb1,2  Skinless Chicken5,6  Lean Pork5,6  Fresh Fish5,6 
Energy (kJ) 527 596 564 504 742
Protein (g) 22.7 22.0 19.3 21.3 27.4
Total Fat (g) 3.8 6.0 6.4 3.9 6.8
Total Omega 3 (g) 0.11 0.16 0.06 0.04 0.2
Iron (mg) 2.0 2.2 0.9 1.0 1.0
Zinc (mg) 4.2 3.7 1.6 2.1 0.5
Riboflavin (mg) 0.15 0.23 0.13 0.20 0.1
Vitamin B12 (mcg) 1.1 1.1 0.4 0.7 1.0

Protein and Fat

The table above shows all meats contain a similar amount of protein; ranging from 27.4 g/100 g in fresh fish to 19.3 g/100 g in skinless chicken.

Fat content differs more noticeably, with lean beef and lean pork containing the lowest amount at 3.8 g/100 g and 3.9 g/100 g respectively, and fresh fish containing the highest at 6.8 g/100 g of fat.

In terms of Omega 3 (Linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid), fresh fish contains the highest levels at 0.2 g/100 g, with lean lamb and beef next at 0.16 g/100 g, and 0.11 g/100 g respectively.

Micronutrients

Iron – The richest source of iron is lean lamb and beef (2.2 mg/100 g and 2.0 mg/100 g respectively), with more than double the levels found in skinless chicken, lean pork and fresh fish.

Zinc – Beef and lamb contain the most zinc (4.2 mg/100 g and 3.7 mg/100 g), more than double the levels found in skinless chicken and lean pork. Fresh fish contains only an eighth of the zinc levels found in beef.

B-vitamins

Riboflavin – Lamb contains the highest levels of riboflavin (0.23 mg/100 g), with skinless chicken containing the least (0.13 mg/100 g).

Vitamin B12 – Lean beef and lamb contain the highest levels of vitamin B12 (1.1 mcg/100 g each), followed closely by fresh fish (1.0 mcg/100 g). Pork and skinless chicken contain the lowest levels.

References

1 Williams, P. et al. (2005), Nutrient composition of Australian red meat – Fatty acid profile (in press).
2 Williams P. et al. (2005), Nutrient composition of Australian red meat – Gross composition data (in press).
3 National Health and Medical Research Council (2003), Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults.
4 Li, D. et al. (2005), Lean meat and heart health, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 14(2):113-119.
5 Food Works.
6 USDA, USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Release at
http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=8964.