Nutrition 101: Health Benefits of Bison

I suppose it’s saying a lot about me that I accept food from strangers. Let me qualify that. I accept food from strangers dressed in white uniforms who work in meat markets. Nope. That doesn’t make it sound any better. But, what was better than any snack I’ve had in a long time was the free sample of cooked bison meat I got during a recent trip to the market.

Bison (also known as buffalo) is becoming increasingly popular in America. It’s sometimes called the “better red meat” and is a great choice for people who are looking for ways to reap health benefits from the foods they eat.

So why is bison referred to as the “better red meat?” Nutritionists say it’s because buffalo meat is one of the most nutrient rich meats available. It not only contains a high proportion of protein and minerals in relation to its calorie content, but it is also an excellent source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12.

What’s more, bison themselves are healthier animals. Typically, bison graze on grass and are not fed commercial feed or grains. They are also not subjected to drugs, chemicals and hormones. Consequently, they have a lower fat content than beef and pork. In fact, if you were to compare a 3-ounce portion of bison meat with the same portion of lean beef you would see that the bison has 143 calories and 2.4 grams of fat, while the lean beef has 211 calories and 10 grams of fat. Likewise, when compared with lean pork, which contains 212 calories and 9 grams of fat, bison is the healthier choice. Also, since bison feed primarily on grass their levels of omega-3 fat and conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) both of which help to reduce cancer, heart disease and diabetes, are higher.

Now that we’ve established what a wonderfully healthy alternative to beef bison is I know what you are dying to know: how does it taste? Honestly, it tastes similar to beef, but it is a bit sweeter and the handful of pieces I had were very tender. Some say bison tastes richer than beef, but I would say I didn’t find my samples to be overwhelming rich. The texture is similar to beef as well.

I think it is important to mention that because bison is lower in fat it’s critical not to overcook it. I was told if you cook bison at a lower temperature you avoid drying it out and making the meat too tough.

Overall, I would say my first experience eating bison meat was a pleasant one. And considering the health benefits one derives from eating the it, I would seriously consider opting to prepare a bison dish for my family. (Or at least having someone prepare one for me at a restaurant.)

Are you a fan of bison meat?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.