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Dr. Barb, the Nutrition Budgeteer

Helping families eat healthier for less

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Ground Beef Nutrition and Price Comparison
Confused about what type of ground beef to purchase? Sure, the higher the fat content, the cheaper the price. But, how do the different types of ground beef compare nutritionally?  The chart below gives the nutritional values of a 4 ounce raw beef patty at three different lean to fat ratios that is cooked by pan-broiling.
 93% lean/7% fat*85% lean/15% fat*80% lean/20% fat*
Serving Size3 oz. (86 g) 3 oz. (83 g) 3 oz. (83 g) 
Calories154 193 204 
Total Fat6.8 g  11.6 g 13.2 g
Saturated Fat2.9 g 4.4 g 6.0 g 
Monounsaturated Fat2.8 g 5.0 g 5.9 g 
Polyunsaturated Fat0.3 g  0.4 g0.4 g 
Cholesterol67 mg 71 mg 71 mg 
* All nutritional values were obtained from USDA's Nutrient Database Standard Reference, Release 23 and USDA's Ground Beef Calculator.
 Dr. Barb's Analysis: Beef is a good source of protein, iron, zinc, and other important nutrients. From the chart above, you can see that all three patties have close to the same amount of cholesterol and polyunsaturated fat, whether they are 93% lean or 80% lean. Where they differ is in the amounts of total fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and calories. The 3 ounce patty from the 80% lean ground beef has 50 more calories and almost twice the fat as the 93% lean patty.
How do these same patties compare from a cost standpoint?
 93% lean/7% fat**85% lean/15% fat**80% lean/20% fat**
Price per Pound


on sale



Number of Servings

per Pound

Cost per Serving$1.37 $1.25 $.92 
** determined the prices given here by reviewing food products at Mid-Atlantic supermarkets or stores in March 2011. If an item was found to be on sale, it is noted. Food items are either “store brand” or “branded” products. The later refers to nationally available branded products. The prices you find may vary, depending on your location and retailer.


Dr. Barb's Analysis: When 93% lean ground beef can be found on sale (as in the above example), there is only a $0.12 cent difference per serving between it and the 85% lean ground beef. Considering the savings in calories and fats, this seems a prudent choice. Of course, each person must weigh the costs and benefits themselves.