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What Does the Word "Lean" Mean About the Meat I Consume?

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Updated June 19, 2014

Question: What Does the Word "Lean" Mean About the Meat I Consume?
Lean meats can provide a great option for obtaining the protein you need in your diet without the associated fat. But what does the word "lean" really mean?
Answer: You may have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, but parting with your meat has been hard on you. Meat has plenty of protein, but some meat can be relatively fatty, too. Cutting fat out of the meat you eat is a viable option to lower its fat content, but this can also be a time-consuming task if the meat you are eating is particularly fatty.

Another good option for meat-eaters trying to watch the amount of fat content in your diet is to consume “lean” meats. “Lean” and “extra lean” are nutritional statements designated by the Food and Drug Administration. However, not all meats can be labeled as “lean.” These are the following requirements that meats need to be designated as “lean” or “extra lean”:

  • Lean – Meats with this designation should have less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and trans fats, and 95 mg of cholesterol in each 100 gram serving of meat.
  • Extra Lean – Meats with this designation should contain less than 5 g of total fat. Of this total fat, these meats should also contain less than 2 grams of saturated fat and trans fats, and 95 mg of cholesterol per serving (about 100 grams).
Additionally, some meats are naturally leaner than others. You could substitute. These include poultry, veal and lamb.

Source:

Rolfes SR, Whitney E. Understanding Nutrition, 3rd ed 2005.

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