10 Unhealthiest Cuts of Beef You Might Want to Avoid

Discover the Cost of Compromise: Top 10 Beef Cuts to Sidestep for Health & Budget Woes

what is the most unhealthy cut of beef

When it comes to indulging in a savory steak, it’s essential to be mindful of the cuts you choose. Some cuts of beef are laden with unhealthy fats that can impact your diet and overall health.

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1. The Beef with Fatty Cuts

Brazilian Picanha. Raw meat, Angus

Fatty cuts of beef are those that contain a higher amount of intramuscular fat, known as marbling. While this fat can contribute to a richer flavor and a more tender texture, it also adds a significant number of calories and saturated fats to your meal, which can be detrimental to your heart health and waistline if consumed in excess.

Some cuts are particularly high in fat content and should be consumed sparingly or avoided by those monitoring their fat intake. It’s important to recognize these cuts and understand how they can affect your diet so you can make informed choices when selecting beef.

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2. Ribeye: A Marbled Menace?

Raw rib eye steak on white baking paper with salt and herbs, close up

The ribeye steak is a favorite among many for its juiciness and flavor, which largely come from its high marbling. This marbling, while delicious, also means that the ribeye is one of the fattiest cuts, with the fat contributing to a higher calorie count and a greater amount of saturated fat.

This can be a concern for those trying to maintain a healthy diet, especially for individuals with heart issues or those trying to manage their cholesterol levels. If you’re keen on enjoying beef but want to keep it healthier, you might consider choosing a less fatty cut or limiting the portion size of your ribeye indulgence.

3. T-Bone: Trouble on the Bone

T-Bone

The T-bone steak, named for the T-shaped bone that divides the meat, offers two types of steak in one: the tenderloin and the strip. However, this popular cut also comes with a significant amount of fat, particularly around the larger strip side, which can be a red flag for health-conscious diners.

The trouble with the T-bone is that while it offers a tender and flavorful experience, it’s also loaded with calories and saturated fat, making it a less-than-ideal choice for those on a strict dietary regimen. Portion control and occasional consumption can help mitigate the risks associated with this tempting cut.

4. Brisket: Fat in Disguise

Piece of Brisket the night before going onto the BBQ

Brisket is cut from the lower chest or breast of the cow and is known for its rich flavor, especially when slow-cooked or smoked. However, the brisket is also notorious for its fat content, which often appears as a thick layer on top of the meat and marbled throughout the muscle.

This fat content can be deceiving, as it’s sometimes hidden within the meat’s fibers, making it difficult to trim away completely. Those who are trying to cut down on their fat intake might want to opt for a leaner cut or ensure that as much of the visible fat is removed before cooking.

5. The Short Rib Dilemma

Raw Organic Beef Short Ribs, on old dark  wooden table background.

Short ribs are another cut that’s prized for its flavor and tenderness after long, slow cooking methods like braising. They are particularly popular in certain cuisines for their rich, meaty taste, but they come with a caveat: a high-fat content that can be a concern for health-conscious individuals.

The dilemma with short ribs arises from the fact that the fat contributes to the taste and texture that makes them so appealing. If you’re looking to enjoy beef without the extra fat, consider choosing leaner cuts and saving short ribs for special, occasional treats rather than regular meals.

6. Avoiding the Prime Rib Pitfall

Prime rib raw beef roast in the kitchen.

Prime rib is a classic choice for festive occasions and fine dining, known for its succulent, melt-in-your-mouth quality. This cut comes from the same section as the ribeye, so it shares the same high levels of marbling and, consequently, saturated fat.

The pitfall of prime rib is its tendency to be served in large portions, which can lead to overconsumption of unhealthy fats. To enjoy prime rib more healthily, focus on smaller portions and balance your meal with plenty of vegetables and other fiber-rich sides.

7. New York Strip: Not So Lean

Raw Grass Fed NY Strip Steaks with Salt and Pepper

The New York Strip is another beloved cut of beef that is often marketed as a leaner option. While it does have a lower fat content compared to some other cuts, it still contains a significant amount of marbling and a strip of fat along one edge.

This cut might be a better option for those looking to reduce their fat intake, but it’s still important to be mindful of portion sizes and cooking methods. Grilling or broiling the New York Strip can help render out some of the fat, making it a slightly healthier choice.

8. The Porterhouse Problem

Dry-aged Raw T-bone or porterhouse beef marbled meat prime steak set, on wooden cutting board, on old dark  wooden table background

The Porterhouse steak is similar to the T-bone, featuring portions of both the tenderloin and the strip separated by a T-shaped bone. It’s a cut that’s known for being particularly large, which can contribute to excessive calorie and fat intake if not consumed in moderation.

The problem with the Porterhouse is that it’s often too tempting to eat the entire steak, leading to an overindulgence in both protein and fat. If you choose to enjoy a Porterhouse, consider sharing it or saving half for another meal to keep your intake in check.

9. Why Shun the Shank Cut?

Piece of raw fresh beef shank, lower part of cow's foreleg with herbs

The beef shank is the leg portion of the animal, and while it’s leaner than some other cuts, it’s often used in dishes like osso buco, which are cooked with additional fats and oils. Additionally, the shank can be tougher and require longer cooking times, sometimes leading to the addition of fatty ingredients to tenderize the meat.

While the shank itself isn’t the fattiest cut, the way it’s typically prepared can make it less healthy than it appears. Opting for cooking methods that don’t add extra fat, such as braising in a flavorful broth, can make the shank a more health-conscious option.

10. Minimizing Meat Risks: Tips

Raw New York or striploin beef meat steak with rosemary and pepper. Dark background. Top view.

To minimize the health risks associated with fatty cuts of beef, it’s crucial to practice moderation and make informed choices. Opting for leaner cuts like sirloin tip, eye of round, or top round can provide the benefits of beef without excessive fat.

Additionally, trimming visible fat, choosing smaller portions, and incorporating plenty of vegetables and whole grains into your meals can help balance your diet. Remember, enjoying beef responsibly means you don’t have to eliminate it from your diet, but rather choose healthier cuts and preparation methods.

Being aware of the unhealthiest cuts of beef is the first step toward making better dietary choices. By opting for leaner options and practicing moderation, you can still enjoy the rich flavors of beef without compromising your health.

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