Beef chuck steak is a cut of beef that comes from the shoulder area of the cow. It is known for being flavorful and somewhat fatty. But is this common cut of beef actually healthy? There are a few factors to consider when determining if beef chuck steak fits into a nutritious diet.
Nutritional profile of beef chuck steak
Here is the basic nutritional information for a 6 ounce serving of braised beef chuck steak according to the USDA:
As you can see, beef chuck steak is high in protein and various vitamins and minerals like zinc, iron, selenium, and B vitamins. However, it is also high in saturated fat and cholesterol compared to other cuts of beef.
Beef is one of the best sources of high quality protein. Protein provides amino acids that serve many functions like building muscle mass and supporting metabolic functions. The protein in beef chuck steak can help support strength building and satiety.
The main concern with beef chuck steak is the high saturated fat content. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to no more than 13 grams per day for the average adult. A serving of beef chuck steak contains 15 grams already. Diets high in saturated fat are associated with increased LDL cholesterol levels and higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Beef chuck steak contains a variety of minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, and B vitamins like niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. Iron supports oxygen transport and energy production. Zinc supports immune function and wound healing. Selenium also acts as an antioxidant and supports thyroid function. The B vitamins help convert food into cellular energy.
Lean beef vs fatty beef
When evaluating different cuts of beef, it’s important to note the difference between lean beef and higher fat options.
Cuts of beef that come from parts of the cow that get more exercise, like the round or loin, tend to be lower in fat. Examples include sirloin steak, tenderloin, and top round steak. These cuts provide more protein and less saturated fat.
Cuts from the ribs and shoulder tend to have more fat marbled throughout. This provides more flavor but also more saturated fat. Some examples are ribeye steak, rib roast, and chuck steak.
So if your priority is getting lean protein while limiting fat intake, stick to cuts from the loin and round. If you don’t mind higher fat and want maximum flavor, choose cuts from the rib and chuck.
Grass-fed vs grain-fed
Another consideration is whether beef is grass-fed or conventionally grain-fed. Grass-fed beef comes from cows that eat only grass and hay. Grain-fed beef comes from cows fed grain and soy in feedlots.
Studies show grass-fed beef tends to be lower in total fat and higher in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef. If limiting fat intake is a priority, grass-fed beef may be a healthier choice.
How you prepare and cook beef chuck steak also affects its nutritional value. Frying or grilling can add a lot of extra saturated fat from cooking oils or grease dripping from the meat. Braising, stewing, or slow cooking are healthier methods.
Here are some healthy cooking tips for chuck steak:
- Use a rack when roasting to allow fat to drip away
- Cook in a slow cooker with broth instead of oil
- Braise on the stovetop with minimal added fat
- Choose healthy toppings like fresh salsa instead of butter
Marinating chuck steak before cooking can both enhance flavor and make it healthier. Acids in marinades help tenderize meats. Bottled marinades labeled “low-sodium” are ideal. Or make your own with lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and fresh herbs.
Is beef chuck steak healthy for weight loss?
Beef chuck steak can be part of a healthy diet for weight loss. Protein foods increase satiety, helping control appetite and cravings. Protein also burns the most calories during digestion.
However, calories still need to be considered. A 6 ounce braised chuck steak contains close to 500 calories. Eating too many excess calories from any source can hinder weight loss.
When incorporating beef chuck steak into a weight loss plan, use strategies like:
- Measuring portions and sticking to 6 ounces cooked weight.
- Bulk up meals by pairing steak with veggies instead of starchy sides.
- Avoiding additional high-calorie toppings or condiments.
Here are some healthy meal ideas for weight loss using beef chuck steak:
- Steak salad – Serve sliced steak over a bed of greens with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and balsamic vinaigrette.
- Steak kebabs – Alternate steak cubes with cherry tomatoes and bell pepper chunks on skewers.
- Steak wrap – Thinly slice steak and wrap with roasted veggies in a whole wheat tortilla.
- Steak tacos – Chop steak and top corn tortillas with pico de gallo, avocado, and cabbage slaw.
Is beef chuck steak healthy for muscle gain?
Yes, beef chuck steak can support muscle gain as part of a high protein diet. Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle fibers broken down during strength training.
Most experts recommend getting at least 0.5-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight when trying to build muscle. A 6 ounce serving of chuck steak contains 32 grams of protein.
To maximize the benefits of beef chuck steak for muscle gain, incorporate strategies like:
- Consuming 20-40 grams of protein from steak or other high quality sources after workouts.
- Spreading protein intake evenly throughout the day in 3-4 meals.
- Pairing steak with carb sources like rice or potatoes to support energy for your workouts.
Some nutritious muscle building meals featuring beef chuck steak include:
- Steak with sweet potato and asparagus.
- Beef chuck chili with corn on the side.
- Steak sandwich with veggies on a whole grain bun.
- Stir fry with steak, brown rice, peppers and broccoli.
Is beef chuck steak healthy for heart health?
Beef chuck steak does contain some nutrients that benefit heart health, like zinc, selenium, and B vitamins. However, the high saturated fat content is a concern for supporting optimal heart health.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 5-6% of total daily calories. Saturated fat can raise LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Strategies for making beef chuck steak more heart healthy include:
- Opting for grass-fed beef which is leaner.
- Limiting portions to 6 ounces max.
- Avoiding additional high fat toppings like butter.
- Choosing leaner cooking methods like braising instead of frying.
- Enjoying no more than 2-3 times per week as part of a veggie-rich diet.
People with cardiovascular disease may want to limit intake to just a few times per month.
Heart healthy meal ideas
Some heart healthy ways to include beef chuck steak in your diet include:
- Steak kabobs using lean steak alternated with veggies on skewers.
- Stuffed peppers with lean ground chuck, brown rice, and sautéed veggies.
- Open faced steak sandwich topped with mushrooms instead of cheese.
Is beef chuck steak healthy for people with diabetes?
Beef chuck steak can be incorporated into a healthy diabetes diet in moderation. As with heart health, the high saturated fat content is the main concern.
Replacing unhealthy fats with healthier unsaturated fats benefits heart health and helps regulate blood sugar levels. People with diabetes may want to enjoy beef chuck steak just on occasion while focusing on leaner proteins like fish, chicken breast, and beans.
Here are some tips for enjoying beef chuck steak with diabetes:
- Limit portions to 6 ounces.
- Choose grass-fed for more healthy fats.
- Remove visible fat before cooking.
- Pair with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli instead of potatoes.
Diabetes-friendly meal ideas
Some nutritious ways to enjoy beef chuck steak with diabetes include:
- Steak kabobs with zucchini and red onion chunks
- Arugula salad topped with thinly sliced steak
- Open faced steak sandwich with avocado instead of cheese
Is beef chuck steak healthy for low carb or keto diets?
Beef chuck steak can fit very well into low carb and ketogenic diets due to its high protein and zero carb content. Protein foods are encouraged on low carb and keto, and meat is a primary source of fat which is also emphasized.
Some tips for enjoying beef chuck steak on low carb/keto include:
- Choosing fattier cuts like ribeye if extra fat is needed to reach your targets.
- Cooking with added butter or oils to increase the fat content.
- Pairing with low carb veggies like green beans, spinach, cauliflower.
- Adding high fat toppings like cheese, avocado, or sour cream.
Some keto-approved ways to eat chuck steak include:
- Steak drizzled with blue cheese butter.
- Chuck eye steak with roasted Brussels sprouts.
- Steak salad with creamy blue cheese dressing.
- Cheese steak skillet with peppers and mushrooms.
Is beef chuck steak healthy for the paleo diet?
Beef chuck steak is considered a paleo approved food since it comes from cattle raised on pasture and does not contain grains or legumes. Protein from meat and fish are staples of the paleo diet.
Some tips for enjoying beef chuck steak on paleo include:
- Opting for grass-fed varieties.
- Cooking simply with allowed fats like olive oil, coconut oil, or lard.
- Avoiding marinades or rubs with prohibited ingredients.
- Pairing with paleo sides like cauliflower rice, roasted veggies or salads.
Paleo chuck steak recipes
Some delicious paleo diet approved ways to enjoy chuck steak include:
- Garlic mustard steak bites
- Steak and vegetable kebabs
- Chuck eye steak with zoodles
- Steak and kale salad with avocado
Beef chuck steak recipes
Here are some nutritious ways to enjoy beef chuck steak as part of a healthy diet:
Balsamic glazed steak
- 1 pound beef chuck steak
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Season steak with salt, pepper and oregano.
- Heat oil in pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side until browned and cooked to desired doneness.
- Remove steak from pan and keep warm.
- Add balsamic vinegar to pan and simmer 1-2 minutes to reduce into a glaze.
- Pour glaze over steak before serving.
Beef chuck and veggie skewers
- 1 pound beef chuck steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
- 1 yellow squash, cut into thick slices
- 1 red onion, cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic and cilantro in bowl. Add beef and toss to coat.
- Thread beef and veggies alternately onto skewers.
- Grill over medium heat 8-10 minutes until beef reaches desired doneness, turning occasionally.
Beef chuck chili
- 1 pound ground beef chuck
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup beef broth
- In large pot over medium heat, cook ground chuck until browned, 5-7 minutes.
- Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook 5 minutes until softened.
- Stir in spices, tomatoes, beans and broth. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, until thickened.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Beef chuck steak does contain some beneficial protein, minerals and nutrients. However, the high saturated fat content means it should be consumed in moderation as part of an overall nutritious diet.
Choosing grass-fed varieties, limiting portions to 6 ounces, and braising or stewing instead of frying can help make beef chuck steak a bit healthier.
People watching their saturated fat or cholesterol levels should limit intake to just 2-3 times per month and enjoy leaner cuts like sirloin or tenderloin more often.
Pairing beef chuck steak with plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and plant proteins like beans helps balance out the fat and provides valuable fiber and nutrients for good health.