Ground Beef Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Ground Beef

Ground beef
Photo: Alexander Shytsman 

Ground beef is a convenient way to include protein in your diet. It is also the primary ingredient in many of our favorite traditional foods, like hamburgers and meatballs. But ground beef is high in calories and saturated fat. The key to including it in your diet is to manage portion control.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 3 ounces of ground beef (85% lean) broiled without added fat or sodium.

  • Calories: 218
  • Fat: 13g
  • Sodium: 76mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 24g

Carbs in Ground Beef

There are no carbs in ground beef.

Fats in Ground Beef

Many of the calories in ground beef come from fat. There are 13 total grams of fat in a serving of ground beef. You'll get nearly 5 grams of saturated fat in that amount. Health experts recommend that we limit our consumption of saturated fat. Healthier fats in ground beef include monounsaturated fat (6 grams) and polyunsaturated fat (0.4 grams).

Protein in Ground Beef

Ground beef is a good source of protein, providing 24 grams per serving.

Micronutrients in Ground Beef

Beef is a great source of carnitine, zinc, selenium, iron, and B vitamins. 

Health Benefits and Concerns

The primary health benefits of beef—primarily ground beef— come from the significant protein that it provides. Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle tissue and for various biological processes that happen in your body every day.

The vitamins and minerals in beef also benefit the body. There is some evidence that vitamin B12 may lower homocysteine levels in the body. Niacin is also a B vitamin that aids in the proper function of many body systems, including the production of sex hormones, nerve function, blood circulation, and converting food into energy.

Zinc is important to maintain a healthy immune system and selenium is essential for DNA synthesis, thyroid function and reproduction.

However, eating a diet high in red meat has been associated with cardiovascular and other health problems, including an increased risk of colorectal cancer. So it's probably best to limit your beef consumption to three or four servings per week.

These health risks are increased with all types of red meat but are worse for processed red meats such as lunch meat and sausages, which may be made with beef or pork. 

Common Questions

Is grass fed beef healthier than meat from regular cattle?

The evidence isn't clear yet. Grass fed beef appears to have a healthier fat profile than meat from cattle fed corn and soy feed. But there isn't much published research available on the health benefits of grass fed beef.

What should I eat if I want to cut back on ground beef?

The decision to cut back on red meat is a great reason to try a few vegetarian meals. Legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas and dry beans, are high in protein but low in saturated fat so they make the perfect substitute. Legumes are also high in fiber so they're just as filling and satisfying as red meat.

Fish is another excellent substitute for beef, especially if you choose salmon, tuna, trout or other fish high in omega-3 fats. Chicken and poultry can be good too. Whatever you choose to replace some of those serving of beef, per sure to prepare them properly and stay away from dishes like fried chicken and fish sticks that are high in fat, sodium and calories.

What are some leaner beef choices rather than ground beef?

If you choose a lean cut of meat you won't have to deal with too much fat, especially saturated fats that may be associated with increase inflammation. So, for example, a 3-ounce serving of beef steak has about 150 calories and 6 grams fat. That's a small portion or meat, but it gives you more than 20 grams protein. 

How can I find lower calorie ground beef?

The fat and calorie counts of ground beef differ based on the fat content that you'll see on the label. For example, 3 ounces of 80 precent lean ground beef has about 210 calories, while the same size portion of 85 percent lean has about 170. A serving of 90 percent lean ground beef has about 145 calories.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

There are different ways to include beef in your diet. To maintain a healthy diet, remember to limit your portion size and combine it with nutritious vegetables or grains. Try one of these preparation ideas to maximize nutrition.

  • Make a beef sauté. Stir-frying and sautéing are both methods of cooking that use a small amount of hot oil in a large pan. A healthy stir-fried or sautéed meal would include three ounces of lean beef for each person plus lots of different vegetables, sauces, and seasonings. The vegetables will add volume to your meal, and the sauces and seasonings will add so many flavors, you won't even realize how little meat is in the dish.
  • Cut fat in chili. If you add ground beef to your favorite chili recipes, cut the fat in your recipe by reducing the amount of ground beef in the recipe. Add red beans (or any other bean) to compensate. You can also throw in some whole grains (like quinoa) for more fiber and protein.
  • Add ground beef to salad. Start with a big bed of your favorite lettuce and add lots of vegetables, maybe a little low-fat cheese, some nuts and even pieces of fruit. Sprinkle on a small amount of ground beef or thinly slice three ounces of leftover or cooked lean steak, and place the beef slices on top of the salad. Add a small amount salad dressing made with olive oil or canola oil. The fresh vegetables add lots of volume; the olive and canola oils add healthy fats.
  • Make a healthier hamburger or beef sandwich. The most popular beef sandwich is the hamburger. to cut the saturated fat in your burger, combine lean ground turkey with beef.
    To make a healthy sandwich with lean beef, place three ounces of thinly sliced lean steak on a slice of hearty whole grain bread. It might look a little lonely, so add lots of lettuce, sprouts, tomato slices and maybe a slice of vegetarian cheese. Add some mustard or pickles and you have a healthy and delicious sandwich. The fiber from the whole grains will leave you feeling full and satisfied with just a small amount of beef.
  • Make a veggie beef casserole. Choose the lowest-fat grade of ground beef you can find in your grocery store. Cook the beef thoroughly and drain all of the fat before proceeding with your recipe. Choose your recipe carefully. Many casseroles are full of fat and calories and won't make a good choice for a healthy meal. However, you can try some healthy casserole recipes. Look for ones that use tomatoes and tomato sauce instead of cheese or cream sauces.

Allergies and Interactions

It is possible to be allergic to beef, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Those with a beef or meet allergy may experience symptoms including hives, itchy skin, headaches, asthma, or in severe cases, anaphylaxis. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says that your healthcare provider can provide a wide range of tests to determine whether or not you have a meat allergy.

Lastly, the U.S. Food and Drug Association recommends that those taking oxazolidinone antibacterials (such as linezolid) should avoid foods including beef that may contain tyramine.

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