May 7, 2010
Sure it's flavorful, but is lamb nutritious?

lamb.jpgWith two stories in this week's Food & Wine section devoted to lamb and it's popularity, we couldn't help but wonder where the meat stands nutritionally.

Beyond being a good source of protein, it's also packed with vitamins, said Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at UC Davis.

Lamb is a little higher than other meats in its amount of B12 per serving, and has 40 percent of the daily need of niacin and zinc in a 4-ounce serving, she said.

"It has a wonderful nutrient profile," Applegate said.

But it is a bit higher in saturated fat than other meat, she said.

On average, a 3-ounce piece of cooked lamb is about 175 calories, with 3 grams of saturated fat and 8 grams of total fat, which meets the FDA's definition of lean meat, according to information from the American Lamb Board.

A 3-ounce cut of beef petite shoulder will cost you 150 calories and contains 2.4 grams of saturated fat and 6.1 grams of total fat, according to nutritional data from The Beef Checkoff.

Not surprisingly, boneless skinless chicken breast weighs in leanest, with 142 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat and 3 grams of total fat for a half-breast serving.

But don't let the slightly higher numbers get in the way of enjoying a piece of lamb meat, Applegate said.

"It's all about eating 3 ounces (of meat) prepared in a healthful way," she said.

Just beware of rich, buttery sauces, which is where calories can hide.

"That's really the thing that can be deadly in a meal," she said.

Click here to read how lamb is increasingly showing up on our plates. To check out my story on local lamb rancher Dan Macon, click here.

Bee Photo by Michael Allen Jones.

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