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How to fit meat and poultry into a healthy lifestyle

We followed Lena Beal, M.S., RD, LD, a therapeutic dietitian at Piedmont’s Fuqua Heart Center, on one of her popular grocery store tours and got the scoop on the best options in every section of the supermarket. Her tips will help you enjoy your favorite foods while still meeting your health-related goals.

Meat, poultry and seafood can be part of a healthy, balanced diet when you keep a few basic rules in mind. In the meat and poultry section, look for:

  • The words “loin” or “round” on the package. This indicates a leaner cut of meat, with less fat and calories.
  • Eighty-five percent fat-free or lean ground beef. Meat with even less fat (such as 92 percent lean) can be more expensive, so 85 percent is both wallet- and waistline-friendly.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken or turkey.

Prepackaged lunch meats can also be a diet pitfall, so select fresh-sliced varieties in the deli whenever possible. This will cut down on salt and fat, which are often used to preserve packaged meats. “We’re only allowed a teaspoon of salt a day – that’s 2,000 milligrams,” says Beal.

While prepackaged deli meat, chicken or steak may save time, “make sure you aren’t cutting corners on your health.”

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