The 10 best meats and the 10 worst ones

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It's pretty tough to be a meat lover these days.

With study after study professing that people should be eating less red meat—and less meat altogether—is there anything a carnivore can enjoy guilt-free?

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The 10 Best Meats And The 10 Worst Ones
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The 10 best meats and the 10 worst ones

The Best

It's important to know your health priorities when selecting the proper meat. There are meats you can enjoy that won't affect your cholesterol or send your sodium levels through the roof. Read on to learn more.

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Pork Tenderloin

While pork can definitely be considered a heavy food, lean cuts of pork can be pretty nutrient rich and even low in calories. A three ounce serving of pork tenderloin has 122 calories and three grams of fat.

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Buffalo

Buffalo (also known as bison) can be a great healthy alternative to red meat like steak or beef. The taste of buffalo is comparable to that of more common red meats and it has half as much fat and fewer calories.

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Roast Beef

If you can’t bear to give up deli meats, which are notorious for nitrates, then roast beef is your best bet. It’s leaner than most deli meats, lower in saturated fat and offers about seven grams of protein per slice.

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Chicken

Chicken can be an exceptionally lean meat and impressively low in saturated fat when consumed without the skin. Chicken is also filled with nutrients like selenium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin B3. Traditionally white meat has been lauded as the healthier part of the chicken, but while white meat is lower in calories, dark meat contains more zinc and B vitamins than white meat does. Did you know that chicken can actually be a natural anti-depressant as well?

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Ostrich

Ostrich is another great choice for those trying to eat less red meat but who still crave the taste. It’s technically poultry and actually contains half the fat of chicken with 2.8 grams in comparison with chicken’s 7.4. A three-ounce serving has 123 calories and over 24 grams of protein.

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Turkey

It’s not Thanksgiving without turkey and the good news is that you don’t even have to feel guilty about enjoying it! A four-ounce serving of white meat turkey without the skin has 158 calories and 34 grams of protein. Turkey is also filled with vitamins B3 and B6 in addition to maintaining a low saturated fat content.

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Pheasant

Pheasant is another type of bird that has a lot of nutrients and not too many calories. Enjoying this one with the skin is a bit more fattening, but at least there are a lot of minerals in the bird to make up for it.

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Lamb Shank

This meat comes from the shank half of the lamb and if it's very well trimmed it can be a reasonably healthy meat to enjoy. A lean three-ounce serving of lamb shank has about 153 calories and under six grams of fat. This size serving of lamb shank also contains about 50 percent of the daily recommended intake of zinc for women and 36 percent for men.

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Veal

Yes, veal has more cholesterol than beef. However, if you enjoy leaner cuts of veal like sirloin you'll be consuming 150 calories or less per three-ounce serving.

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Pork Chop

A boneless pork chop has about 147 calories per serving and 23 grams of protein. The sodium levels are also pretty low on this meat.

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The Worst

Try to consume these meats in moderation since their nutritional profile isn't as impressive.

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Corned Beef

Corned beef is generally made of the fattier areas of brisket, which should give you a pretty good image of its health profile. It has 16 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat and 960 mg of sodium, not to mention nitrates. Savor this meat on special occasions.

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Prosciutto

Even if it seems light and thin, just a two-ounce serving of prosciutto contains over 10 grams of fat and four grams of that fat is unhealthy saturated fat. In addition to its unsavory fat content, prosciutto is also salted, which makes the sodium content a whopping 973 mg per serving when the daily recommended limit is 1500 mg. Enjoy this one sparingly.

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Ham

When eating ham spring for the leaner versions because it is a high fat food. A three-ounce serving of boneless roasted ham has 7.7 grams of fat with 2.7 grams made up of saturated fat.

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Salami

If you want to knock out 17 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake with one slice, then try salami. Of the six grams of fat in that slice, two are saturated fat. Savor this one on special occasions.

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Bacon

It's a shame that such a popular food isn't very nutritionally beneficial since it is both high in sodium and saturated fat. Try sprinkling bacon on dishes as a condiment instead, or give turkey bacon a shot.

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Bologna

This classic lunch meat is definitely one that should be enjoyed sporadically. One slice contains 300 mg of sodium and 3 grams of saturated fat.

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Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are a very common processed meat. Processed meats can contain nitrates and are frequently high in sodium.

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Mortadella

Roughly two ounces of mortadella contain 14 grams of fat and 560 mg of sodium. That's 23 percent of your daily recommended intake of sodium.

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Chicken Nuggets

This childhood staple is sadly not very healthy. Sometimes chicken nuggets contain very little chicken and the ingredients that end up in a nugget can be icky. Plus the signature breaded exterior only adds calories. Your best bet is to make your own chicken nuggets from scratch.

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Duck

Duck actually has a lot of nutrients in it, but if it's not prepared properly it becomes a very fattening meal. Try to keep the duck lean by cooking it skinless, trimming the fat and not using a lot of oil. Of the six grams of fat in a serving, there are 2.3 grams of saturated fat, so there's no need to add more.

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While it's true that a diet rich in fruits and veggies has countless benefits, there are also ways to enjoy meat without feeling unhealthy. By choosing lean cuts over fatty ones, you'll be saving yourself extra fat and calories and instead be filling up on protein and nutrients. Have no fear meat-eaters, we've gathered the best and worst meats you can find so you'll be better prepared for dinner.

Check out the slideshow above for the 10 best and worst meats to eat.

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