Red meat is consistently considered an unhealthy food. Although steak does have high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat, it is also a good source of protein and nutrients. In moderation, steak can be a worthy addition to most diet plans. Different cuts of meat have different nutrient profiles, so opt for lower calorie cuts of meat if possible.
Because steak naturally contains no carbohydrates, all of the calories in steak come from protein and fat. Fat content greatly affects total calories. A 3 oz.. serving of top round steak (lean) contains 178 calories while a 3 oz. serving of prime rib (fatty) contains 258 calories.
Fatty cuts of steak are lower in protein than leaner cuts of the same size because fat takes up more weight. A 3 oz. serving of top round steak contains 30.3 g of protein while 3 oz. of prime rib contains 20.8 g of protein.
Fat content varies greatly in steak. A 3 oz. serving of top round steak contains only 5.4 g of fat (1.9 g saturated fat, 2.1 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat). The same size serving of the much more fatty prime rib contains 18.8 g of fat (7.4 g saturated fat, 7.8 g monounsaturated fat, 0.7 g polyunsaturated fat). In addition to selecting leaner cuts of meat, also check the label. Meat labeled “Select” is much leaner than meat labeled “Choice” or “Prime.”
Red meat is an underrated source of B vitamins, which aid in energy metabolism. Specific nutrient profiles may differ based on the cut of meat. Prime rib, for example, is high in niacin (28 percent of daily value), vitamin B6 (21 percent of daily value), and vitamin B12 (23 percent of daily value). Top round steak contains more vitamin B12 (38 percent of daily value) and riboflavin (13 percent of daily value), but lower amounts of niacin (16 percent of daily value) and vitamin B6 (12 percent of daily value).
Red meat is a good source of various minerals, including iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. A 3 oz. serving of top round steak is high in selenium (40 percent of daily value) and zinc (26 percent of daily value) and contains moderate amounts of phosphorus (19 percent of daily value) and iron (15 percent of daily value). A 3 oz. serving of prime rib contains high amounts of selenium (32 percent of daily value) and zinc (25 percent of daily value) in addition to a moderate amount of phosphorus (16 percent of daily value) and a low amount of iron (8 percent of daily value). Selenium aids enzyme function, while phosphorus and zinc play a role in cell metabolism. Iron transports oxygen through the blood.