The 5 Healthiest Meats—and 2 to Avoid

Hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken fingers are all-American meats, but not the best. You don't need to give up meat to be healthy.


Choose 3.5-ounce servings with less than 10 grammes of total fat and 4.5 grammes of saturated fat (think: deck of cards size). Malkani, creator of the Wholitarian TMLifestyle, recommends trimming excess fat or skin and grilling, boiling, or roasting meat to reduce saturated fat.

Best overall: Lean cuts of meat

Sollid says turkey is a lean protein high in vitamin B6 and niacin. These nutrients support heart health, digestion, energy, and brain function. Drumsticks and thighs are a good source of iron, says Sollid.

Best: Skinless, light turkey meat

Poultry is also rich in vitamin B6 and niacin. Journal of Food & Nutrition Research says it helps maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being. Sollid says white meat is high in phosphorus and riboflavin.

Best: Skinless chicken breast

Lean pork tenderloin is a great meat option. Pork accounts for more than 36% of the world's meat intake, according to the FAO.

Best: Pork tenderloin and pork top loin or roast

According to a 2016 study in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, lean red meat can be part of a healthy diet. Beef provides protein and essential nutrients, like other meats. Grass-fed beef has more vitamin E and antioxidants.

Best: Flank, strip steak and 95 percent lean ground beef

Processed meats include cured meats, cold cuts, salami, and hot dogs. Consuming large amounts of processed meats raises colon cancer risk, says science.

Avoid: Processed meats

Avoid fatty meats: The American Heart Association says their high saturated fat content may raise cholesterol and cause heart disease. Worrisome cuts Consider rib-eye, T-bone, and NY strip steaks. Pork ribs and bacon are fattier than chicken drumsticks and skin.

Avoid: Fattier cuts of meat

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