10 Of The Unhealthiest Cuts Of Steak

medium rare steak
medium rare steak - Zoya Miller SVG/Shutterstock

Navigating the aisles of a butcher shop or scanning a restaurant menu, we often find ourselves entranced by the rich flavors and textures offered by various steak cuts. Sometimes, we opt for indulgence, while at other moments, we exercise restraint.

The former is straightforward, yet the latter demands research and the formation of conscientious habits. Indeed, indulging in certain cuts of steak presents multifaceted health implications. It transcends the realms of fat and cholesterol, with numerous other factors playing a significant role in the potential health repercussions of a steak meal.

Each steak cut harbors unique nutritional attributes. After all, steak is meat; as cited by Harvard Health Publishing, meat tends to raise LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. Even cuts that appear lean can exert this influence, underscoring the necessity of a well-rounded approach when selecting a steak. This approach should not only consider the inherent properties of the cut but also assess the considerable impact that preparation methods and chosen accompaniments can impose on the overall health quotient of the meal.

Read more: The 13 Best Steaks For Grilling


Ribeye steaks
Ribeye steaks - Breaking The Walls/Shutterstock

The ribeye steak serves as an indulgence that never fails to delight steak aficionados across the globe. It is renowned for its rich marbling. However, this distinctive characteristic is also a health concern.

The marbling denotes a high concentration of fat interspersed throughout the meat, contributing to its saturated fat content. The American Heart Association advises limiting the intake of saturated fats to reduce the risk of heart disease. The generous fat distribution in ribeye steaks makes it nearly impossible to separate the fats, making portion control a challenging task.

Cooking methods commonly employed for ribeye steaks, such as high-heat or pan-searing, can cause the formation of harmful compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, which have been linked to increased cancer risk, as reported by the National Cancer Institute. Moreover, these methods do little to mitigate the inherently high cholesterol found in ribeye steaks, posing an additional challenge for maintaining heart health.

New York Strip

New York Strip steaks
New York Strip steaks - Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock

The New York Strip steak is highly esteemed for the prominent fat cap that embellishes one side, which adds flavor and succulence to the cut. Yet, this distinguishing feature significantly escalates the caloric content. This can be unhealthy because consuming too many calories heightens one's risk of obesity, a caution underscored by Harvard Health Publishing. Moreover, some chefs or home cooks often purposefully retain the fat cap during preparation, transforming it into a reservoir of saturated fats, notorious for their adverse health implications.

This tender cut is derived from the shorter side of the cow's loin, a less engaged muscle section. This localization endows the steak with a considerable degree of marbling, which accentuates its tenderness and flavor, while augmenting its saturated fat level. However, despite its marbling, the New York Strip is still considered a leaner choice, especially when compared to fattier cuts like the short rib or ribeye.


Porterhouse cut of steak
Porterhouse cut of steak - Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock

The Porterhouse steak, a veritable feast for meat enthusiasts, encompasses both the tenderloin and a large section of top loin, distinguishing it from the T-bone steak, which contains a smaller section of the tenderloin. The immense size of this cut, however, naturally nudges diners towards overeating, paving the way for a significantly higher caloric and fat intake in a single meal.

It also contains higher protein levels, which can be viewed as healthy. Nonetheless, individuals with kidney concerns should approach this protein-rich indulgence with caution since excessive protein intake has been linked with an escalated risk of chronic kidney disease, as substantiated by findings from a 2017 study.

While the porterhouse does offer a leaner section with the filet, the sirloin part brings with it a notable amount of marbled fat, which contributes to higher levels of saturated fats in a dish. This aspect, combined with common preparations that often include butter or oil to enhance flavor, further adds to the saturated fat content, escalating potential health risks. This cut is best enjoyed with friends on celebratory occasions and not made a part of a regular daily meal.

Prime Rib

Prime rib being sliced
Prime rib being sliced - ShengImages/Shutterstock

When you step into an American buffet, chances are you'll be greeted with the enticing aroma of prime rib, generously marbled and laden with a thick layer of fat. This, unfortunately, also serves as a substantial source of calories and saturated fats. A mere 3 ounces of prime rib delivers around 300 calories; over half stem from its fat. This serving hosts about 24 grams of fat, with 9.6 grams being the saturated kind.

However, the concern doesn't just end with its nutritional composition. More often than not, prime ribs are cooked to a medium or medium-rare consistency, featuring a lukewarm red center, a preference at many buffets. This should be a cause for alarm, as the handling and cooking in the back kitchens remain unseen, potentially harboring risks related to food safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that consuming undercooked meat, especially when not handled with utmost hygiene and care, can become a health risk, exposing us to food-borne illnesses.


Smoked beef brisket being cut
Smoked beef brisket being cut - Goldyrocks/Getty Images

Traditionally considered a less favored cut of meat due to its affordability, beef brisket has now gained significant culinary traction, making regular appearances in festive feasts and barbecue joints. Despite its rise in popularity, it's necessary to be cautious of the health implications of consuming it. Being a primal cut from the breast or lower chest of the cow, it comprises two parts: the flat and the point. The flat is leaner, while the point is characterized by more marbling packed with saturated fats.

Smoking is a popular method for cooking brisket, often chosen for its ability to tenderize the meat and infuse it with a rich, smoky flavor. The process of smoking brisket subjects it to the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), compounds known for their carcinogenic properties. A 2021 study highlighted that PAHs are created due to the exposure of meat to high temperatures and smoke during smoking. As a result, PAHs readily bind to the surface of the meat, permeating into the fats and tissues. Eating smoked meat, therefore, means ingesting PAHs, stealthily escalating the potential risk of cancer.

Short Ribs

Short ribs on tray
Short ribs on tray - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Coming from the chuck, short ribs occupy a section of the rib area closer to the cow's belly. Despite being sourced from active muscle areas, short ribs are known for a significant degree of marbling, a feature that makes them juicy and beloved by meat lovers. However, this marbling, essentially pockets of fat within the muscles, also means that short ribs are high in both calories and saturated fats, posing a potential health risk when consumed in large quantities.

Short ribs are highly sought after in global cuisines, notably in Korean fare, where they are a staple. Often fashioned into a famed dish known as galbi, the ribs are marinated in a potent mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and other ingredients before being grilled. Galbi is famous across the globe, especially in Los Angeles, where the ribs are cut flanken-style. This method allows for a more uniform absorption of marinades and facilitates even cooking. Obviously, this also adds to the overall calorie and sugar of the dish.

Filet Mignon

Filet mignon with butter
Filet mignon with butter - Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock & Lauripatterson/Getty

Hailing from the smaller end of the tenderloin, a section located in the backbone of the cow, the filet mignon boasts remarkable tenderness that sets it apart. This characteristic comes at a cost, and its deceptively lean appearance often misleads many. The cut contains a significantly high percentage of saturated fats, more than a third of its total fat content. These fats are notorious for their tendency to burden the digestive system, according to HealthPartners.

In addition to its high fat content, the culinary traditions surrounding filet mignon often further escalate the calorie count. Take beef Wellington, for example. In this classic recipe, filet mignon is coupled with additional calorie-dense components, like puff pastry and a rich mushroom mixture. Moreover, filet mignon is frequently paired with butter or butter-rich sauces during preparation, which further adds to its unhealthiness. But even when it's enjoyed alone, filet mignon is one of the unhealthiest cuts of steak out there.

Chuck Eye

Chuck eye being seasoned
Chuck eye being seasoned - Juefraphoto/Getty Images

Often touted as an economical substitute to the ribeye, chuck eye steak is extracted from the shoulder area's fifth rib, neighboring the ribeye region. This proximity gifts it with a flavor profile somewhat resembling that of a ribeye, albeit with less tenderness.  However, what it lacks in texture, chuck eye makes up with a stronger beef flavor.

To bolster the innate beefy flavor of chuck eye, it is common to apply a generous amount of salt and pepper, escalating the sodium content to higher levels. High sodium intake is often associated with a range of health issues, including high blood pressure and stroke, as advised by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Moreover, given its affordability and comparable flavor profile to the ribeye, consumers might be tempted to purchase chuck eye in larger quantities and consume it more frequently. This could amplify all associated health risks exponentially.


Oxtail cuts of steak
Oxtail cuts of steak - Maren Winter/Shutterstock

Oxtail, once considered a throwaway cut of steak, has risen to gastronomic fame, becoming a delicacy in various cuisines around the world. It is used as part of the dish kare-kare in the Philippines. This cut is lauded for its rich flavor and gelatinous texture. However, similar to other unhealthy cuts, it harbors a high concentration of saturated fat. Being a part of the animal's tail, it contains a considerable amount of connective tissue, adding to its high collagen content.

Although collagen is commonly perceived as beneficial for skin and joint health, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that more study is needed to conclusively demonstrate the skin and joint benefits of ingesting collagen since it is converted to amino acids in the digestive system. This belief could potentially be a double-edged sword, as excessive collagen intake has been linked to the formation of kidney stones, as reported by MedicineNet.

Flat Iron

Flat iron cuts of steak
Flat iron cuts of steak - Food Via Lenses/Shutterstock

Derived from the cow's shoulder, specifically from the infraspinatus muscle, the flat iron steak is recognized for its tenderness and marbling, which make it bursting with flavor. It got its name due to its resemblance to an old-fashioned metal flat iron.

Within the scope of a balanced diet, monitoring cholesterol intake is important. A 100-gram serving of flat iron steak contains over 70 milligrams of cholesterol, constituting a significant portion of the daily recommended cholesterol intake of 300 milligrams for individuals with a low risk of heart disease, per UCSF Health.

Predominantly grilled or pan-seared to retain its flavor, this cut of meat can accumulate advanced glycation end products (AGEs), substances that are known to exacerbate inflammation and foster disease progression, according to a 1994 study. Coupling this steak with salty, butter-based sauces can escalate its potential health risks. Furthermore, considering the steak's robust flavor, it often pairs itself with rich red wines, encouraging an uptick in alcohol consumption when enjoyed too frequently.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.