Veal Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Beef chopped in a ceramic bowl

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Veal is meat from calves, most often male dairy calves at four to six months of age. It's usually more expensive than beef and is commonly associated with Italian, French, German, Swiss, Hungarian, and Czech cuisines.

The light pink color of veal is due to its milk- or formula-fed diet and hemoglobin content. Because veal does not have as much hemoglobin as beef, it also contains less iron. Here is what you need to know about veal including the potential health benefits.

What Is Veal?

Veal's tender texture is due to its age. Because veal is butchered at a young age, it has not had time to develop the musculature of regular beef resulting in a more tender cut.

Plus, veal is raised in environment-controlled barns with open pens and stalls that provide enough room for the calves to roam, stand, stretch, sit, groom themselves, and lay down, but not enough room to exercise and build muscle.

There are two kinds of veal—milk-fed and grain-fed. It is believed that grain-fed calves provide darker meat than milk-fed. Most veal found in today's market is milk-fed. Milk and formula-fed calves have a special controlled diet that contains iron and 40 other essential nutrients, including amino acids, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Veal Nutrition Facts

The nutrition facts for 4 ounces (113 grams) of lean veal loin is provided by the USDA.

Veal Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 129
  • Fat: 3.28g
  • Sodium: 112mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 24.6g
  • Phosphorus: 268mg
  • Potassium: 294mg
  • vitamin B12: 2.99mcg
  • Niacin: 8.19mg

Carbs

Like most animal proteins, veal does not contain any carbohydrates.

Fats

One 4-ounce serving of veal loin contains 3.28 grams of total fat. From the total fat, 1.52 grams is coming from monounsaturated fatty acids, 0.2 grams from polyunsaturated fatty acids, and 1.27 grams from saturated fatty acids. Veal loin is considered a low-fat food.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 5% to 6% of total calorie intake for the day. For someone on a 2,000 calorie diet, that's no more than 13 grams of saturated fat each day. One serving of veal only contains around 1 gram of saturated fat leaving plenty of room in your diet for more.

Protein

Veal is considered a quality protein source with 24.6 grams of protein per 4-ounce serving. It contains all nine essential amino acids that must be consumed in our diet and contain nearly 2 grams of the essential amino acid Leucine, the amino acid responsible for building muscle.

Vitamins and Minerals

Red meat, including veal, is an excellent source of the essential vitamin B12. The daily recommended value of vitamin B12 is 2.4mcg per day for adults. One (4-ounce) serving of veal loin fulfills those recommendations and then some. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found primarily in animal proteins that is required for the function and development of the central nervous system, red blood cell formation, and DNA production.

Veal is also a good source of the essential minerals potassium and phosphorus, as well as the b-vitamin niacin. One (4-ounce) serving of veal provides 51% of the RDA for niacin, 11% of the RDA for potassium, and 38% of the RDA for phosphorus. Niacin is used to create energy from the foods in our diet. Potassium is required for normal cell function and phosphorous is a component of bones, teeth, DNA, and RNA.

Calories

One 4-ounce serving of veal loin has 129 calories. Protein makes up 76% of the total calories of veal while fat makes up the remaining 24%.

Health Benefits

Veal is a nutrient-dense protein that source that can offer a number of health benefits.

Improves Cholesterol

Though red meat continues to suffer from old myths suggesting it causes heart disease, the opposite is true. But, scientists are trying to put false myths to bed by publishing the research that embodies the truth about red meat.

Veal (and other red meat) not only helps promote a healthy heart but does so by helping improve lipid profiles of the blood and cholesterol levels. One study compared both pork and veal and their effects on serum lipids (cholesterol) and found that participants in both groups experienced a 5% reduction in low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) after eating either pork or veal for 6 weeks.

Another study found that including lean beef in a meal plan showed favorable effects on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and risk factors including a decrease in total and LDL cholesterol. If you like red meat, including veal, and have high cholesterol or other risk factors for CVD, you may benefit from eating veal regularly in your diet.

Helps Build and Maintain Muscle

Eating more protein is one of the easiest ways to help you build and maintain muscle. And because veal is chock full of lean protein, adding it to your meal plan may help you build muscle.

On top of that, research suggests that beef in and of itself is an excellent choice for building muscle. One study determined that older adults who eat beef on a regular basis have more muscle mass and healthier nutrition status than their non-beef eating counterparts.

Plus, veal contains nearly 2 grams of the essential amino acid leucine, the amino acid responsible for muscle protein synthesis.

One study showed that even without other amino acids, leucine is able to promote muscle protein synthesis. And when paired with intensive physical training, an amino acid blend containing 76% leucine has been shown to help increase fat loss while maintaining a high level of performance.

Boosts Brain Function

Veal is an excellent source of vitamin B12. Without adequate B12 in the diet, brain function and other body systems will suffer. To maintain a sharp mind it is important to eat foods that are rich in vitamin B12 like veal on a regular basis.

One study determined that while low B12 levels may not be a risk factor for cognitive decline, B12 levels could be a contributing factor to cognitive function. A few more reviews determined that low vitamin B12 levels are associated with cognitive decline and found that if the diet is unable to provide adequate B12, supplementation will suffice.

Help Reduce Blood Pressure

Foods rich in potassium are important for controlling blood pressure. That's because potassium is involved in maintaining fluid balance and the rate at which blood pumps through your veins. If you have too much sodium, you are at risk of high blood pressure. Potassium balances out the effects of sodium on your heart and blood pressure.

One 4-ounce serving of veal contains 294 milligrams of potassium making it an excellent source of dietary potassium. One review notes that increasing potassium intake will counteract the effects of a high salt diet.

Varieties

Veal is graded similarly to beef. There are 5 grades—prime, choice, good, standard, utility. Prime cuts are more tender and have more marbling.

Prime cuts generally cost more and are sold in high-end restaurants and markets. Choice has a little less marbling than prime and is the most common in local markets.

Storage and Food Safety

Take veal home immediately and refrigerate at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Use veal chops and roasts within 3 to 5 days. Ground veal or stew meat should be used within 1 to 2 days of purchase.

Veal can be kept frozen indefinitely. For best quality, use frozen veal chops or roasts within 4 to 6 months, or ground veal or stew meat within 3 to 5 months.

Store cooked veal in the refrigerator promptly and discard anything that has been left out more than 2 hours. Cooked veal should be consumed within 3 to 4 days.

How to Prepare

Both dry heat and moist heat work well when cooking veal. It's a tender cut and can be prepared by broiling, braising, pan broiling, roasting, grilling, stir-frying, or simmering in a soup or stew.

Ground veal should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Veal steaks and chops should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving.

18 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 Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN
Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN is a Sports and Pediatric Dietitian, the owner of Nutrition by Shoshana, and is the author of "Carb Cycling for Weight Loss." She's been writing and creating content in the health, nutrition, and fitness space for over 15 years and is regularly featured in Oxygen Magazine, JennyCraig.com, and more.