I received this question from my friend Amy who I used to work with in Pittsburgh:
“So if I had 6 oz of chicken breast (boneless), 6 oz of beef (sirloin), and a 6 oz pork chop (boneless), trimmed the fat off of each and cooked them all on the Foreman grill – which would be the healthiest, and which would be the least healthy?”
This is a great question and there are several things to consider, but let’s take a look at how they compare in calories and fat since all these choices are high in protein.
- 6 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast is 165 calories, with 3 grams of fat (0 g saturated fat)
- 6 ounces of boneless trimmed pork chop is around 200 calories, with a total of 3 grams of fat (1 g saturated fat)
- 6 ounces of the beef sirloin has around 270 calories, with a total of 16 grams of fat (6 g saturated fat)
The Short Answer
Out of the three, chicken is the healthiest, because it is a lean protein source that doesn’t contain saturated fat – the bad kind of fat that raises blood cholesterol. But the pork comes in at a fast second.
But keep in mind that the cut of the meat and trimming away excess fat and skin makes all the difference. New studies also show that eating a diet high in saturated fat causes the release of a stress hormone called “cortisol” which causes fat to be stored around the belly.
So What About The Beef?
I love beef, I won’t deny it and it’s a very good source of iron. However, see how the sirloin compares to the chicken and pork? It’s high in overall fat and high in the “bad kind” or saturated fat. Medical experts say to limit your saturated fat intake to 20 grams daily (or under 15 g if you have risk for heart disease).
So in this case, 6 grams might seem ok, but remember that packaged crackers and chips, cheese and other dairy (even the low fat kind), and other processed foods eaten in combination with that meat can put you well over the limit in just one meal.
What’s the solution? Eat a smaller piece of beef and enjoy it only on occasion. Or try to choose leaner cuts of beef.