Know Your Cuts this Memorial Day

When we think about summer holidays and warm weather, we imagine spending time outdoors, swimming, and of course eating all of the delicious foods that come with! Spending time outdoors on the grill is a fun way to celebrate the season, but you don’t have to skimp out on the nutrition when you do it! A lot of it comes down to the preparation, including what cuts and types of meats you purchase. 



Did you know that beef is a source of 10 essential nutrients? That includes protein and micronutrients such as zinc, iron and B-vitamins. Lean beef can actually be a nutrient dense choice for most people, and it’s packed full of flavor. However, it’s important to be mindful of the cut you are purchasing, because consuming higher fat red meat over a longer period of time can have negative impacts on your health. When considering your options, always look out for the leaner choices. Lean beef is categorized into two groups by the USDA: extra lean (which is defined as a 3.5oz serving containing less than 5g of total fat and 2g of saturated fat) and lean (which is defined as a 3.5oz serving containing less than 10g of total fat and 4.5g of saturated fat). Here are some examples of each:

  • Extra lean cuts
    • Eye of round roast and steak
    • Top round roast and steak
    • Bottom round roast and steak
    • Sirloin tip side steak
    • Top sirloin steak
  • Lean cuts
    • Brisket flat half
    • Round steak
    • Flank steak
    • Tenderloin steak
    • T-bone steak



Like beef, chicken is a very nutrient dense protein option for most people. Chicken meat provides not only protein but also micronutrients like niacin, selenium, phosphorus and other B vitamins. It’s also generally lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, making it a great choice for a healthy eating pattern. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different cuts of chicken as well, because not all chicken is created equal! Generally speaking, white meat cuts are going to be lower in fat and calories than dark meat cuts. 


White meat cuts of chicken include:

  • Chicken breast (including tenders and tenderloins!)
  • Chicken wings


Dark meat cuts of chicken include:

  • Chicken thigh
  • Chicken drumstick


Although the dark meat cuts of chicken may be higher in fat, this does not necessarily make this an unhealthy option. For example, a chicken drumstick is only slightly higher in saturated fat than it’s breast meat counterpart, but much is higher in healthy monounsaturated fats! Removing the skin is also a way that you can reduce the fat content of your chicken. 


Overall, any type of meat can be incorporated into a healthful eating pattern by practicing balance and moderation. So this summer season, don’t be scared to fire up the grill! Just remember to purchase your lean cuts of meat and pair them with other nutrient dense options, like fruits and veggies, and you have a delicious and nutritious meal that is sure to satisfy!