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The Worst Side Effect of Eating Steak, Says Dietitian

Avoid this protein-packed pitfall.

When you want to celebrate any kind of momentous occasion or just crave a filling meal, nothing compares to steak. While these meals can easily hit the spot, you have most likely heard that you shouldn't indulge in this meal too often. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the risk of steak and other red meat lies in its saturated fat content, which leads to cholesterol spikes. These particular kinds of fats lead to the very worst side effect of eating steak.

"The worst effect of eating steak is its effect on heart health," says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and a member of our medical expert board. "Because it is high in saturated fat, steak can elevate your LDL 'bad' cholesterol. This is a risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US."

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"One health-related side effect of eating steak relates to saturated fat and cholesterol," says Jinan Banna, PhD, RD. "If these are consumed in excess, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. If someone is consuming a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, consuming steak every day may not be the best choice."

Anyone who needs to monitor their diet might have a harder time indulging in a steak, but don't assume that you need to completely cut this magnificent cut of protein out of your eating plan altogether.

How to choose the right kind of steak for your health

"Since steak tastes so good, it may be difficult to give it up altogether," says Dr. Jen Haley, dermatologist and medical advisor at Editor's Pick. "One way to make a difference is to cut any visible fat off the steak. Less saturated fats, less inflammation. It's best to keep meat lean, and in moderation. The old adage 'too much of a good thing' definitely applies here."

In addition to trimming your steak, the AHA also recommends selecting the right kind of cut that limits the amount of saturated fat. Make sure to look for steaks featuring the words round, loin, or sirloin on the package to ensure the meat contains the least amount of fat and opt to consume two or three ounces at a time.

In some instances, you may really crave some of the fat found on a steak or can't avoid ordering the perfect cut with just the right amount of marbling. In these situations, just make sure you can share your meal with a friend.

"Steaks in restaurants are also too big so the effect is pronounced—a typical steak in a restaurant often contains several days' worth of protein," says Young. "Share it with two other people for better health. Or have fish instead."

After everything's said and done, you can feel confident grilling up your favorite steak or ordering a mouthwatering cut at your local steakhouse as long as you keep these tips in mind. Selecting the best cuts of steak might seem daunting at first, but with a bit of practice, you can select the ideal protein for your diet with the minimum amount of side effects. To help guide your choices, make sure to consult The Best & Worst Cuts of Steak—Ranked by Nutritional Benefits! to get the best bang for your buck.

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more
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