I’m fairly certain I exceeded the daily recommended allotment of meat last week. I was bach’in it while the family was down in North Carolina, hence the simple menu – seared venison steaks, oven-roasted venison tenderloin, venison fajitas, and seared venison steaks…again. If nutritionists recommend 2, 2-3 ounce servings per day, what does it mean if I ate 3.5 pounds of venison in 5 days? Other than mean I love venison…a LOT, let’s dig in and find out from a nutritional standpoint.
I’m no nutritionist and I barely grasp what the lady is telling me after she says I have high cholesterol and dives off into different kinds of good and bad fats, but here are some facts I can wrap my head around.
*A venison steak has fewer calories than a beef steak of the same size. By the ounce, fat has more calories than protein, and this shakes out predictably. Your average beef steak has more fat than your average cut of venison, and thus, an average beef steak has slightly higher caloric content than venison.
*USDA Choice beef is 6.5% fat —– white-tailed deer is 1.4%. Elk is even leaner at 0.9%, and bear isn’t on either list I pulled off the Internet. To me, this is a despicable oversight because it’s evidence that supports the notion that some (much?) of the meat harvested from black bears around the country goes to waste.
*In general, saturated fats are to be avoided in heavy doses as they lead to higher cholesterol. Beef fat is composed of 46.3% of these bad fats, deer fat 45.6%. No real difference other than the fact that you’re taking in substantially less of it with a venison versus an old fashioned slab of cow.
*I’ll skip over fatty acids to address polyunsaturated fats – “good” fats. This is where wild game is a real winner. Whereas beef fat contains a measly 8% of polyunsaturated fats, venison triples that at 24%. Antelope laps beef 4 times around the oval, and moose meat scores an impressive 5-fold victory in this department.
*Now here’s where my bubble popped. I assumed that I had high cholesterol because I eat a ton of red meat, even if it was supposedly “better for me.” For instance, Kara and I ate half an elk, a whole black bear, and 2 whitetails 2 calendar years ago. This year, we’re on pace to knock out between 4 and 5 whitetails with the help of ravenous Raelyn. That’s a lot of red meat any way you cut it.
From the standpoint of dietary cholesterol, there is no nutritional advantage to consuming meat from any one species over another [any red meat wild game versus beef]. A 100-gram [3+ ounces] uncooked portion of meat from any one of these species contributes only 15 to 18 percent of the American Heart Association’s daily guideline of 300 milligrams of cholesterol. A major misconception is that game meat contains the “good cholesterol”…and that beef contains the “bad cholesterol”…This is not true.
So with my 11+ ounce/day recent pace on venison, I’d be consuming 55-70% of my recommended daily cholesterol allotment through wild game. Not sure if “meat” cholesterol is comparable to “dairy” cholesterol or otherwise, but it seems that going light on the eggs, cheese, milk, and ice cream while going on a venison binge would be an easy and effective mitigation strategy. A little dietary compensation if you will.
All in all, I was surprised how murky the waters were in deciphering major differences between beef and various wild game. Most of the big categories had small differences, and the slam dunk conclusion that eating wild game is way better for you seems to be a perpetuated myth. On one day, the dieticians proclaim “chocolate is good for you,” the next, “it’s bad for you.” I suppose murky conclusions are what we should expect from the nutritional community. My clear conclusion is this.