Round steak is a cut of beef that comes from the rear end of the cow, particularly the round primal cut. It is considered an affordable, leaner cut of beef without much marbling or fat. But is round steak actually a healthy choice?
Nutritional profile of round steak
Here is the basic nutritional profile of a 6 ounce serving of raw, lean round steak:
- Calories: 230
- Protein: 34 grams
- Fat: 9 grams
- Saturated fat: 3 grams
- Cholesterol: 110 mg
- Sodium: 85 mg
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
As you can see, round steak is high in protein, which makes it quite filling and supports muscle growth and repair. It is also relatively low in fat and saturated fat compared to fattier cuts of beef.
Benefits of round steak
Here are some of the main health benefits associated with eating round steak:
High in protein
Round steak is an excellent source of high quality protein. Protein provides amino acids that play many vital roles in the body including building and repairing muscle tissue, supporting the immune system, and helping regulate hormones and enzymes. Consuming enough protein is also beneficial for weight management, as protein is very satiating and helps control appetite.
Low in fat
Compared to other beef cuts like ribeye or tenderloin, round steak is significantly lower in total fat and saturated fat. This makes it a healthier red meat option for those looking to limit fat intake, such as people with heart disease or high cholesterol.
Good source of iron
Round steak contains a decent amount of iron, with about 15% of the recommended daily intake in a 6 ounce serving. Iron is essential for producing red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia and symptoms like fatigue.
Rich in other nutrients
In addition to protein and iron, round steak contains B vitamins like niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. It also provides some zinc, selenium, and choline. These nutrients support various aspects of health.
Versatile and budget-friendly
Round steak is often more affordable than other beef cuts, making it a budget-friendly protein source. It is also quite versatile – it can be grilled, pan-fried, braised, roasted, or simmered in stews and soups. This makes it easy to incorporate into a variety of recipes.
Potential downsides of round steak
While round steak can certainly be part of a healthy diet, there are some potential downsides to consider as well:
High in saturated fat
Despite being leaner than many cuts of beef, round steak still contains a moderate amount of saturated fat at around 3 grams per 6 ounce serving. Saturated fat has been shown to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, so intake should be limited for heart health.
High in cholesterol
All beef contains cholesterol, and a 6 ounce serving of round steak has about 110 mg. For healthy individuals this is not too concerning, but those with high cholesterol may want to limit intake to avoid raising cholesterol further.
Lacks omega-3 fats
Unlike fish and plant sources like walnuts, round steak does not provide any omega-3 fatty acids. These are anti-inflammatory fats that most people do not get enough of.
May increase cancer risk
Some research has linked high consumption of red and processed meats to an increased risk of certain cancers. More research is needed on the cancer risk of specific cuts like round steak.
Is round steak healthy for weight loss?
Round steak can be a good option for those trying to lose weight for a few reasons:
Lean source of protein
With 34 grams of protein in just 6 ounces, round steak is an excellent high protein choice. Protein increases satiety and requires more energy to digest than fat and carbs. This can support appetite control and increase calorie expenditure.
Provides bulk without excess calories
Round steak fills you up due to its protein content. With only around 230 calories in a serving, it provides bulk and volume without a lot of calories, which can prevent overeating at meals.
Studies show that protein suppresses levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. This may support feelings of fullness and help reduce cravings between meals.
Overall, round steak is one of the more diet-friendly cuts of beef due to its high protein and low calorie and fat content. It can keep you feeling satisfied on fewer calories when eaten in place of higher calorie meats or foods.
Is round steak good for muscle building?
Yes, round steak can support muscle building and maintenance in several ways:
High in protein
With 34 grams of protein in a 6 ounce serving, round steak provides plenty of amino acids to help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Multiple daily protein feedings are important for building muscle mass.
Rich in vitamin B12
Round steak provides over 150% of the recommended intake for vitamin B12 in just 6 ounces. Vitamin B12 helps support muscle function and energy production during strength training.
Beef is one of the few dietary sources of creatine besides seafood. Creatine supplementation can boost muscle mass and performance when combined with strength training.
Overall, regularly including round steak in the diet can provide key nutrients to support muscle growth in conjunction with a good strength training program.
Is round steak good for you?
In moderation, yes – round steak can be part of a healthy diet. Here is a summary of the main benefits and downsides to eating round steak:
- High in protein
- Low in fat, especially saturated fat
- Good source of iron
- Provides B vitamins
- Affordable and versatile
- Contains saturated fat and cholesterol
- No omega-3 fatty acids
- May increase cancer risk if eaten in excess
Eating round steak in moderation, such as 6 ounces or less a few times per week, can be part of an overall balanced diet for most healthy individuals. Limit intake of round steak and other red meats if you have heart disease, high cholesterol, or diet-related chronic illnesses.
How to cook round steak for maximum nutrition
Here are some tips for cooking round steak in a healthy way that retains nutrients:
Use lower temperature cooking methods
High heat cooking like grilling and broiling can form harmful compounds that may increase cancer risk. Cook round steak gently using lower temperature methods like pan-frying, braising, or stewing instead.
Charred, blackened meat contains higher levels of carcinogens. Cook round steak lightly until just browned, but not charred, on the outside.
Cut into smaller pieces
Cutting round steak into smaller pieces before cooking increases the surface area, allowing it to cook more quickly and evenly. This avoids overcooking.
Let it rest after cooking
Allowing round steak to rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking allows juices to redistribute throughout the meat. This makes it more flavorful and tender.
Use rubs and marinades
Marinating round steak or rubbing spices onto the surface can help reduce carcinogen formation during cooking. Antioxidant herbs and spices are excellent marinade ingredients.
Avoid added sugars
Be mindful of added sugars in store-bought marinades and condiments like barbecue sauce. Stick to healthier marinades made with olive oil, vinegar, and herbs or spices.
Round steak recipe ideas
Here are some nutritious recipe ideas for how to cook delicious, healthy round steak meals:
Round steak stir fry
Stir fry thinly sliced round steak with vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, onions, baby corn, and snap peas. Serve over brown rice.
Round steak fajitas
Cook sliced round steak with onions and bell peppers. Wrap in warm tortillas with salsa and avocado.
Greek round steak
Top grilled round steak with a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Round steak salad
Grill round steak and slice. Serve over a salad of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and chickpeas. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
Slice round steak thinly and cook in a sauce of mushrooms, onions, garlic, and reduced-fat sour cream. Serve over whole wheat noodles.
Vietnamese round steak bowls
Marinate and grill round steak. Slice and serve over brown rice noodles with carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and peanut sauce.
Round steak soup
Simmer chunks of round steak with celery, carrots, tomatoes, and beans in broth. Season with herbs and spices.
The bottom line
Round steak is on the healthier end of the beef spectrum with its high protein content and lack of excess fat and calories. In reasonable portions a few times a week, it can be part of an overall nutritious diet, especially when cooked using lower temperature methods. Pair it with plenty of vegetables and other wholesome ingredients for balanced, delicious meals.