Corned Beef Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Corned beef sandwich

Getty Images / lostinyonkers

What would St. Patrick’s Day be without a classic corned beef meal? This rich cut of beef brisket, cured with salt “corns” (hence its name) has long been a staple in American celebrations of the Irish feast day—and has also been a feature of European and Middle Eastern cuisines for centuries.

Corned beef is believed to have originated from a time when meat had to be preserved with salt. Today, though salt isn’t necessary for preservation, many people continue to enjoy the unique flavor it imparts.

Corned beef boasts several important micronutrients and is high in protein, which the body needs to build muscle, create enzymes, and repair tissue. However, it is also quite high in sodium and fat. This can be a drawback for those on a low-sodium or heart-healthy diet.

Corned Beef Nutrition Facts

A 3-ounce (85 grams) serving of cooked corned beef brisket provides 213 calories, 15.5 grams of protein, and 16.2 grams of fat. It also contains 827 milligrams of sodium. The following nutrition information is from the USDA.

  • Calories: 213
  • Fat: 16.2g
  • Sodium: 827mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 15.5g

Carbs 

Beef itself contains no carbs, but corned beef generally has a scant amount of carbohydrates from sugar and/or flavorings (such as peppercorns or mustard seeds) used in its seasoning.

Fats

Corned beef is typically made using beef brisket—one of the fattiest cuts of a cow. It’s not surprising, then, that this meat is high in fat at just over 16 grams per 3-ounce serving. About one-third of the total fat (5 grams) is saturated.

Protein

Corned beef contains plenty of protein: 15.5 grams per serving. As an animal product, this protein supplies all the essential amino acids the body needs to get from food. However, corned beef is not a particularly high-protein cut of beef compared to other, less fatty cuts like eye of round or top sirloin.

Vitamins and Minerals

Notably, corned beef is high in sodium. A 3-ounce serving packs 827 milligrams (36% of the recommended 2,300 milligrams per day). On the plus side, the St. Paddy’s Day favorite is a good source of iron, providing 20% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for men and 9% for women.

Corned beef also shines for its selenium content at 50% of the RDI and vitamin B12 content at 58% RDI. Small, but significant, amounts of riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus round out its micronutrient profile.

Health Benefits 

Helps Build Muscle

Protein is an essential building block for muscle tissue. Getting enough protein in your diet helps your body repair the small tears that exercise creates within muscles, ultimately making them stronger. The 15.5 grams of protein in corned beef supplies 31% of the protein you need in a day.

Supports Nervous System Health

Corned beef boasts an impressive amount of vitamin B12, a micronutrient that keeps the nervous system functioning properly. You may get more of this benefit from fresh (versus canned or otherwise processed) corned beef.

Helps Fight Iron Deficiency Anemia

If you’ve been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, your doctor may have instructed you to eat more iron-rich foods. With 20% of the RDI of iron for men and 9% for women, corned beef can help you reach your daily target.

Boosts Thyroid Health

In addition to its sizable amounts of vitamin B12 and iron, corned beef is also rich in selenium. This lesser-known mineral has an important role to play in thyroid health. In fact, it’s required for the metabolism of thyroid hormones. One large review of 69 studies concluded that maintaining a healthy concentration of selenium was necessary to prevent thyroid disease. 

Suitable for Many Special Diets

What’s gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, Paleo-friendly, and keto? Corned beef! Though it won’t be right for vegans or vegetarians, this can fit into a variety of special diet plans.

Allergies

Allergies to beef are rare. However, a bite from the Lone Star tick can cause some people to develop a sudden allergy to red meat. This may result in a runny or stuffy nose, nausea, or a skin rash after eating corned beef.

It’s also possible to have an allergy or sensitivity to ingredients (particularly artificial ingredients) used to season corned beef. If you know you’re allergic or intolerant to certain food additives, read corned beef ingredient lists carefully before eating.

Adverse Effects

Unfortunately, the salt “corns” that give corned beef its savory flavor add a not-insignificant amount of sodium.

At 36% of the daily sodium recommendation in a single serving, corned beef may not be suitable for people who need a low-sodium diet, whether for heart health, kidney disease, or other health conditions. Meanwhile, its high levels of saturated fat could contribute to higher cholesterol.

Additionally, research has associated diets high in red and processed meats with an increased risk of colorectal and breast cancer.

Varieties

The blend of seasonings used on corned beef can vary (though salt is always the common denominator). Flavor additions you may see in corned beef recipes include brown sugar, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, mustard seeds, vinegar, or pickling spices.

You can find corned beef sold two different ways: fresh or canned. The canned version contains minced meat that has been heat-treated to stay shelf-stable.

Storage and Food Safety

Once you’ve brought home your corned beef from the butcher counter, it can be stored, uncooked, in the refrigerator for five to seven days before cooking or freezing. If you decide to freeze it, drain any excess liquid, wrap well, and freeze for up to a month for best quality.

When it’s cooking time, be sure the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, for easier slicing, let it rest for three minutes before digging in.

Cooked corned beef leftovers can be wrapped or covered in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep for three to four days. In the freezer, cooked corned beef can last two to three months.

How to Prepare

Got corned beef in a can? Simply open and eat, no cooking required! Fresh-cooked brisket, on the other hand, is usually brined for hours (or even days), then boiled until tender. For a traditional St. Patrick’s Day spread, serve corned beef with cabbage, potatoes, and Irish soda bread.

As any corned beef lover knows, this savory dish can also enrich a variety of other meals. Sliced thin, corned beef makes a great sandwich. Then there’s the ever-popular corned beef hash, which pairs pieces of the meat with potatoes, onions, or other vegetables in a skillet meal. Or add leftovers to your morning eggs for an extra protein boost.

Recipes

Healthy Corned Beef Recipes to Try



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Article Sources
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