Local News

Have Your Meat, Be Healthier, Too

Posted May 30, 2006

— Meat. It is the main course for most American meals, and most is a good source of protein and other essential nutrients for the human body.

But it can also have more fat and sodium than other foods, according to Natalie Newell, a registered dietician at Rex Hospital.

For example, a typical hot dog is about 180 calories -- about 140 (or 16 grams) of which are fat.

"Most of the total fat comes from saturated fat," Newell said. "(And) just one of these hot dogs can almost take half the sodium you need in one day."

Saturated fat clogs the arteries. Too much sodium contributes to high blood pressure.

But there are some things shoppers can look for at the grocery store to make meaty meals healthier.

"You can't get away from the sodium content when you're looking at packaged meat so, (a perfect situation) would be to go to the deli and get some low-sodium deli meat, and actually get them to cut it for you," Newell said.

What about sausage? Newell said there are healthy options, such as chicken sausage. One link of chicken sausage is 45 calories and has about 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of which is saturated fat.

A 2-ounce serving of pork sausage, in comparison, has 21 grams of fat, 7 grams of which is saturated fat.

Ground turkey or chicken can also be a healthy alternative to ground beef.

"But what you want to be mindful of is there is a fat difference between ground turkey and ground turkey breast," Newell said. A 4-ounce serving of ground turkey has about 8 grams of fat while a 4-ounce serving of ground turkey breast has about .5 grams of fat.

Newell also said some ground beef is 97- 98 percent fat-free, which is less fat than in some ground turkey or chicken products.

It's all on the label -- if you'll just check and pick the healthiest options.

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