Bison Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Bison nutrition facts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

For those looking for leaner alternatives to beef but who still want red meat flavor, bison is a great option. Bison has a similar texture, flavor, and appearance to beef, in a leaner and more nutrient-dense package (depending on the cut). Experiment with bison steaks, roasts, or ground meat in your favorite recipes.

Compared to beef, bison is lower in calories, fat, and saturated fat. It is higher in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, selenium, and certain B vitamins. This less common meat can provide a healthier alternative to America's favorite red meat.

Bison Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information for one 3-ounce patty of cooked ground bison (85g) is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 121
  • Fat: 2.1g
  • Sodium: 186mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 24.1g


There are no carbs in bison meat.


In general, bison is leaner than beef, depending on the cut. To compare, a cooked ground beef patty made of 97% lean beef contains 3.8g fat (2.9g saturated fat), while a similar-sized bison patty has 2.1g fat (0.8g saturated fat). The American Heart Association recommends consuming up to 5% to 6% of daily calories from saturated fat. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that means a max of about 13 grams of saturated fat per day.

Comparable cuts of bison and beef show bison to have 1/3 of the total fat, less saturated fats, and more beneficial (mono and poly) unsaturated fats, including omega-3s. This remains true even when bison and cattle are reared in similar conditions.


Like most meats, bison is an excellent source of high-quality protein. Bison provides all of the essential amino acids with about 24 grams of protein per serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

​Bison contains a variety of micronutrients including iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12.

Health Benefits

Like other meats, bison's complete protein and essential mineral content help support an active lifestyle.

Promotes Muscle Recovery

When it comes to recovering after a tough workout, protein is essential. Bison provides a great source of high-quality protein that your body can use for muscle synthesis. Obtaining your protein from natural food sources like bison provides added vitamins and minerals to support strength-building.

Improves Wound Healing

A 4-ounce bison patty provides just over 3 milligrams of zinc which is an important mineral for wound healing. Zinc from meat sources is more bioavailable than from vegetarian sources, which means that bison provides a form of zinc that's easy for your body to absorb. The daily recommendation of zinc ranges from 8 to 11 milligrams. Bison can help you achieve this target.

Supports Bone Strength

Maintaining strong bones helps to keep seniors active and independent. Getting enough protein is helpful for maintaining muscle mass and also bone strength. A study evaluating self-reported intakes in 70-year-old men found a positive association between protein consumption and bone strength. Including adequate dietary protein through foods like bison helps bones stay strong as you age.

Helps Prevent Anemia

There are several different types of anemia. Two of the most common result from lack of iron or B12. Iron-deficiency anemia is usually related to blood loss or lack of dietary iron; symptoms include fatigue; weakness; dizziness; problems with memory and thinking; headaches or dizziness; dry, brittle hair, skin, and nails; and pica (strange cravings for metal, dirt, paper, or starchy food).

Pernicious anemia is associated with lack or poor absorption of vitamin B12. Symptoms of this kind of anemia include fatigue, dizziness, paleness, and a rapid heart rate. Since bison is a good source of both iron and vitamin B12, consuming it can help you avoid becoming anemic. If you are experiencing symptoms of anemia, be sure to contact your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment.

Reduces Cancer Risk (vs. Processed Meats)

Processed meat intake is associated with the development of a host of health problems, including a higher risk of colon cancer. Replacing processed meats (such hot dogs or deli meat) with whole, unprocessed bison products allows you to enjoy red meat while avoiding some of the cancer risk of processed meat products.


There are no common allergies or interactions related to bison. However, a rare allergy to meat—including bison, along with beef, pork, and lamb—is becoming more common in the United States. This allergy can cause severe reactions, so if you experience symptoms (such as vomiting, shortness of breath, or hives), seek medical attention right away.


Historically, bison were generally more likely to be grass-fed than conventional beef. Bison have also been touted for benefits related to health and environmental sustainability due to their natural patterns of grazing on open pastures. In recent years, more and more bison are being grain-finished to yield a fattier flavor and a more consistent product.

Bison meat labeled "100% grass-fed" must come from animals who were fed a diet of 100% grass. If part of their diet consisted of grains, the label must state this (for example, "85% grass and 15% corn"). Check labels carefully if you prefer grass-fed meat (which may be leaner than grain-fed meat).

The increased awareness of bison's benefits has led to greater bison product accessibility. Even your local grocery store may now carry frozen bison patties or bison jerky. While these products are a convenient way to enjoy bison, they may contain additives that should be consumed in moderation. Check food labels to determine what's in the products you're buying.

Storage and Food Safety

The food safety rules for bison are the same as for other types of meat. Raw bison should be kept cold (40 degrees Fahrenheit or less) right up until it's time to cook it. Prepare refrigerated bison within 3–5 days or freeze it at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 4 months to retain optimum quality. Bison can be frozen in its original packaging but should be transferred to air-tight, heavy-duty foil or plastic wrap if freezing for longer than 2 months.

Thaw frozen bison in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Cook ground bison to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit immediately after thawing. Bison steaks and roasts can be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Once cooked, eat or freeze bison within 3–4 days.

How to Prepare

Bison can be prepared the same way as beef, however, because it is naturally leaner, it can become tough if overcooked. Keep in mind that bison should be consumed in moderation and prepared in ways that minimize the formation of carcinogens. 

  • If preparing bison steaks, trim off any visible fat before cooking and prepare in a very hot pan to get a nice sear and caramelization on the outside but not overcook the inside.
  • Bison is most tender when prepared medium or medium-rare but not beyond that.
  • Bison burgers can be prepared the same way as beef burgers—on the grill, on a rack in the oven, or on the stovetop in a grill pan. Take care when flame-grilling to reduce potential carcinogens.
  • Ground bison can substitute for beef in other recipes where ground meat would be used, such as meatloaf, meatballs, chili, or tacos.
14 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kristy Del Coro, MS, RDN, LDN
Kristy is a licensed registered dietitian nutritionist and trained culinary professional. She has worked in a variety of settings, including MSKCC and Rouge Tomate.