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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Is buffalo better for you than other red meats?

Two related questions from two different readers:

1. Although I do not eat red meat often, I was introduced to ground buffalo meat (very lean from Whole Foods) and immensely enjoyed it. Is there a great difference in the nutritional values compared to other lean red meats? Some research suggests that buffalo (and ostrich) is a healthier alternative to beef because the grams of fat is greatly lower. What is your opinion on buffalo meat?

2. My husband and I are huge fans of bison. In fact, we have replaced all the red meat in our diet with its bison equivalent. The stats say that bison have lower calories, higher protein, less saturated fat and cholesterol than chicken per 100 grams with the additional bonus of omega's due to their diet of grass and no hormone or antibiotic treatments since they are free range. My question is this: because of these great numbers, do we still have to treat bison as a "red meat" and eat only the recommended 3 oz per week, or can we treat it the same way we treat chicken and eat it several times per week? We would love to know the answer since this has been a real point of contention between us!

Dr. Gourmet Says...

An American Buffalo standing in a field

Wow, two questions about buffalo in one week. What are the odds?

I love bison (which is American buffalo) and do purchase it occasionally instead of beef. There's somewhat better chance that the bison will be grass fed and there is good research that says grass fed beef (both cattle and bison) are higher in Omega 3 fats. It is lower in saturated fat but not that much lower than similar cuts of beef (according to the USDA). It is, however, higher in saturated fat than pork tenderloin or chicken breast.

4 ounces Calories Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g)
Bison Top Round 137 2.7 1.1
Beef Top Round 144 3.7 1.3
Pork Tenderloin 119 2.3 .75
Chicken Breast 128 2.9 .64

You would want to treat bison as a red meat and have it only about once a week.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet