BY Alyse

Beef Lovers’ Healthy Meat Alternatives

For those of you who love your beef burgers and steaks, but don’t love their saturated fat and cholesterol, you have other meat options that are much healthier for your heart but still contain that meaty taste that you love. Read on to learn more.


Given the fact that cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death among BOTH men and women in the US today, decreasing your intake of bad fats (saturated fat and trans fat) is vital to lowering your risk of heart disease. However, doing so can be very difficult and undesirable for those who are big beef fans. Luckily for them, there are a number of healthy meat alternatives on the market that provide the same rich meaty taste as beef but without all the saturated fat and calories. Three of these meats are ostrich, bison (also known as buffalo), and venison.

The three “other red meats” have similar protein contents, but fewer calories, less total fat, and saturated fat per ounce than beef…making them all better options in terms of heart health. Read on to learn a bit more about each alternative meat.


Believe it or not, ostrich meat has much of the texture and taste as well as protein and iron found in beef, with 40% less fat and about half of the calories. In fact, ostrich has fewer calories and fat than either skinless chicken or turkey! Ostrich meat is sweeter and richer than other meats, and actually looks more like beef than chicken, even though the ostrich is a bird (granted, a big one).

While it is already very popular in European restaurants, it has not yet reached the same popularity level in American restaurants. Therefore, buy and cook up your own! Ostrich comes in a variety of cuts, including prime steaks, filets, sausages, burgers, stir-fry, diced, and cubed (for kebabs) and it can be substituted for beef, pork, lamb, turkey, or chicken in virtually any recipe.

NOTE: Ostrich cooks faster than other meats because of its low fat content. Steaks should be cooked medium rare to medium. Cooking ostrich meat to well done is not recommended.


Bison meat tastes similar to beef, with just a slightly sweeter and richer flavor. Nutritionally you are getting more protein and nutrients with fewer calories and fat grams when eating bison in place of beef. Furthermore, bison is extremely rich in iron as well as essential fatty acids (while the total fat is slightly high, the saturated fat is low- and this is what you should be most concerned about).

Another reason why bison are so healthy is that the animals are not subject to questionable drugs, chemicals or hormones and feed off mostly grass, rather than grain. The members of the National Bison Association feel so strongly about this that they introduced “Certified American Buffalo” as a seal that offers customers an extra degree of confidence in the quality of bison meat products. Every package containing the Certified American Buffalo seal comes from producers who adhere to a USDA-audited program to ensure that the products can be traced to the ranches of origin, and that animals are never given growth hormones or fed antibiotics or animal byproducts.


Venison is a delicious and nutritious meat that comes from either wild or farm-raised deer. While the flavor of the meat is somewhat related to the animal’s diet, venison is typically described as having a full, deep taste that is slightly similar to a deeply woody, yet berry-like red wine, with a tender texture. Venison is a very good source of protein and iron and tends to be fairly low in fat, especially saturated fat. Venison is also a very good source of vitamin B12 and a good source of the other B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6.


As Americans struggle to stave off obesity and heart disease, one way they can have their “meat” and eat it too is by opting for healthy alternative red meats over fatty beef cuts. Ostrich, bison, and venison are all healthy alternatives to traditional red meat. No matter what type of meat you choose, you must consider HOW much you need to be satisfied. Most people portion 9-10 oz of meat, however, a “standard” serving size is only 3 oz. You may not be satisfied with 3 oz but you may surprise yourself by how little it takes to be satisfied. So, the next time you fire up your grill, think of the type of meat and be mindful of the portion size…your heart will thank you!