Most people would agree that it’s good to try new things. Stick to the same habits, eat the same things, hang out with the same people, and life begins to stagnate. With this in mind, most people make a point of getting involved in new activities or social events, traveling to new places, and perhaps trying the odd “quirky” sounding dish on the menu.
But when it comes to meat, most Americans are hesitant to venture out of their comfort zone. We’ll chow down on chicken, pound back the pork, brunch on beef and even lunch on lamb… but as for those “quirky” meats, we may think it’s really not worth the risk.
But it turns out that you’re missing out on a whole lot by being unadventurous with your meat. There’s a whole new world of beautiful flavors and wonderful health benefits in those less popular meats, one of which is elk.
Here are six health benefits of elk meat, along with some of the other reasons why elk should be your new favorite meat.
The many health benefits of elk meat
Elk meat is low in calories
Based on the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Composition Database, a 100-gram (around 3.5 ounces) serving of elk meat has only 148 calories. For those people trying to cut down on their daily calorie consumption, that’s a remarkably low figure for meat — a similar portion of beef averages around 250 calories, while chicken sits at around 240 calories. For some calorie counters, that could mean a whole extra meal!
Elk meat is low in fat
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m big on healthy fats. Getting plenty of good monounsaturated fats from olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds is high on my to-do list each day because they’re healthy, and despite what people might tell you, so are saturated fats!
But for whatever reason, some people simply can’t tolerate much fat in their diet. They might have difficulty secreting enough bile to process fats in the food they eat, or they might simply be trying to cut back on an already fat-overloaded diet.
If this sounds like you, elk meat is right up your alley. At just 3 grams of fat per 100-gram serving, elk meat has one of the lowest fat profiles of all the meats. This means that a single serving of elk meat makes up only 6 percent of your daily recommended fat intake, with just 1 gram saturated fat per serving.
Elk meat is high in protein
It’s fair to say that most of us don’t get nearly enough protein in our diets. The bulk of our meals are made up of carb-heavy foods like bread, pasta and cereals, leaving very little room for the two other components in a healthy diet — fat and protein! A lack of protein means you’ll finish every meal without feeling satisfied, with a greater risk of snacking between meals and an inability to put on lean muscle mass. More protein is almost always better!
And in this regard, elk meat is very much a winner. Elk meat contains one of the highest levels of protein of any meat — higher even than pork, beef, lamb, turkey and bison, and around the same as chicken. At over 30 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, elk is a great meat for those wanting to bulk up without fattening up at the same time. High protein foods like elk meat can also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Elk meat is usually grass-fed
Unlike beef and lamb, elk are much better suited to deal with cold weather and limited foraging. They’re genetically predisposed to thrive on fringe habitats like high-latitude tundra, where there isn’t always a lot of grass to go around. This means that, when farmed, elk is less likely to be fattened up on grains and therefore more likely to be grass-fed. This gives it a far healthier nutritional profile, with a more favorable omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio, and a wider range of nutrients within the meat.
And if you’re unsure about whether it’s grass-fed or not, just buy wild elk meat — it’s not hard to get ahold of!
Elk mean has plenty of nutrients
You’ve probably never looked at a steak or burger from the standpoint of nutrition before, but most meat contains a decent level of vitamins and minerals — and elk meat definitely fits this bill. Elk meat contains over 100% of your daily vitamin B12 needs, along with plenty of iron, thiamine, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin B6. It also contains close to half of your daily vitamin B2 (riboflavin) needs, along with 30% of your recommended daily niacin (vitamin B3) requirements.
All that, from a hunk of meat? Not bad!
Elk meat is delicious!
Alright, so this one isn’t necessarily a health benefit per se… but flavor is still important, right? Elk meat tastes similar to beef, but has just enough variation to let you know you’re eating something special. If you choose free-range farmed elk, it doesn’t have that “gamey” flavor that puts many less adventurous eaters off. It’s also amazingly tender, meaning it generally doesn’t have to be marinated: just grill it up and enjoy!