Bison Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits of Bison

Bison meat

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For those looking for healthier alternatives to beef but still want the red meat flavor, bison is a great substitution. It has similar texture, flavor and appearance compared to beef but is generally leaner and more nutrient dense. Bison can be purchased as steaks, roasts, or ground but is most readily available in large chain grocery stores as packaged ground meat.

Compared to beef, bison is lower in calories, fat and saturated fat and higher in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, selenium, and certain B-vitamins.

Bison Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information, for one 4-ounce patty of ground, grass-fed bison (113g) is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 8g
  • Sodium: 80mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 23g​

Carbs in Bison

There are no carbs in bison meat.

Fats in Bison

Conventional ground bison contains 4.5g fat per oz of raw meat; the same amount of grass-fed bison only contains 2g. For comparison, 1 oz of conventional ground beef (80% fat, 20% lean) contains 5.6g total fat per oz. Of the 4.5g of total fat in conventional bison, 1.9g is saturated fat, 1.8g is monounsaturated fat, and 0.2g is polyunsaturated. This means 42% of the fat it contains is saturated, 40% monounsaturated, and 4% polyunsaturated. 1 oz of conventional ground bison also contains 24mg omega 3 fatty acids; grass-fed contains 10.6mg per oz.

As with beef, the fat content will vary based on the diet of the animal and the cut of meat. For example, lean top round bison steak contains less than 1g fat per oz but bison ribeye will contain slightly more (1.6g per oz). And grass-fed bison will be significantly leaner than conventional.

Protein in Bison

Bison is an excellent source of high-quality protein. 1 oz ground bison contains 5g and 1 oz lean bison steak 6.5g (almost as much as 1 egg). It contains a variety of amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids.

Micronutrients in Bison

​Bison contains a variety of micronutrients including omega 3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, potassium, selenium, Vitamin E, and B-vitamins which are all important for growth and maintenance.

Health Benefits

Historically, bison were generally more likely to be grass-fed than conventional beef. They've 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.

To reap the maximum health benefits from bison, look for bison that is labeled "100% grass fed" meaning they are grass-fed and grass-finished. The second best option would be to look for bison that is "pastured raised" meaning that even though they may have been finished on grain, they were not in a feedlot like most conventional cattle. 

Because bison is leaner than beef and contains important amino acids for building muscle, it is favored among athletes as a high-quality source of lean protein and its high quantity of selenium and zinc are also linked to anti-inflammatory properties. But keep in mind that too much red meat in one's diet can lead to adverse health conditions so while bison is a healthier choice among other red meats, it should still be consumed in moderation and prepared in ways that minimize the formation of carcinogens

Common Questions

Where can I buy bison?

Bison is available in most retail grocery chains including large discount stores such as Costco as well as online retailers.

What does it taste like?

Bison is has a stronger iron flavor than beef but is also slightly sweeter. 

Is all bison grass-fed?

Historically, bison was 100% grass fed however in modern farming, three-quarters of American bison are finished on grain in feedlots to obtain the fattier flavor similar to grain-fed beef. 

Bison labeled "pasture-raised" indicates the bison was not fed in a feedlot but may still have been finished on grain in an open pasture. Only bison that is labeled "100% grass-fed" will have been only grass-fed. More information on where to find grass-fed bison producers can be available on the American Grassfed website.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Bison can be prepared the same way as beef however because it is naturally leaner, it can become tough if overcooked.

  • 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. Use these tips when flame grilling to reduce potential carcinogens.
  • Ground bison is also a great substitute for beef in other recipes where ground meat would be used such as meatloaf, meatballs, chili or tacos.
  • The National Bison Association is a great resource on additional preparation tips for specific cuts of bison. 

Allergies and Interactions

There are no common allergies or interactions related to bison.

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