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Nutritional Information

Bison. It's What Healthy People Eat for Dinner.

Bison meat provides a healthy alternative to other meat sources. Rich in vitamins and minerals, while low in fat, cholesterol and calories, the nutritional content of bison is impressive.

Protein is used in the human body to build and repair tissues, produce enzymes and some hormones, and maintain cell membranes and components of the immune system. Bison meat is a rich source of protein; each serving has 22 grams of protein. Bison cuts are complete proteins containing all the essential amino acids in appropriate amounts.

Low in Fat

Not only is bison meat a rich source of protein, it also is very low in fat, containing roughly 2 percent fat per serving, and only 66 mg of cholesterol per serving. Current recommendations are that Americans should consume less than 30 percent of their calories from fat and less than 300 mg of cholesterol daily. Bison meat can be labeled as low-fat according to labeling regulations. The types of fat present in bison are worth mentioning: Monounsaturated fats account for more than 46 percent of total fats in bison while 43 percent of the fat is saturated and the remaining 11 percent is polyunsaturated. American Heart Association dietary guidelines call for obtaining all three types of fat as part of a healthy diet with up to 15 percent of calories being from monounsaturated, up to 10 percent of calories from polyunsaturated and 8 to 10 percent of calories from saturated fats. Monounsaturated fats often are touted as the "healthy fat," because eating them does not raise cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 and Omega-6

Bison meat contains linoleic and linolenic fatty acids, which also are known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, respectively. These omega fatty acids are thought to be useful in many functions of the human body, including assisting in formation of cell membranes, aiding in the production of hormone-like compounds, and participating in immune and visual processes. These two omega fatty acids are called “essential,� meaning the substance is necessary for us to eat and cannot be made in our bodies.

Low in Calories

The food energy or caloric content of bison cuts is low, particularly for a meat. The average caloric content of a serving of bison is 140 calories, which is about 7 percent of calories, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Vitamins and Minerals

Bison meat is a rich or good source of vitamins and minerals (Figure 1). When a food contains 20 percent or more of the Daily Value or Reference Daily Intake of a nutrient per serving, the terms 'major source of,' 'rich in' or 'high' can be used to describe the content of this nutrient in the food or food product. The term 'good source,' 'source of' or 'important source of' indicates that a food contains from 10 to 19 percent of the nutrient per serving.

Nutrition Chart

Bison meat contains many vitamins but is highest in vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and niacin content. Bison meat contains enough vitamin B12 to be considered a major source of the vitamin, because one serving of raw bison meat contains 43 percent of the Daily Value. Vitamin B12 is involved in folate metabolism and also is used in maintenance of myelin sheaths, which insulate nerve fibers. A serving contains 12 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin B6, which is used in protein metabolism and formation of several neurotransmitters. It is also a good source of niacin, providing 10 percent of the Daily Value per serving. Niacin plays a role in energy metabolism, fat synthesis and fat breakdown. Vitamins in a serving of bison meat to a lesser extent are riboflavin at 6 percent of the Daily Value, thiamin at 3 percent of the Daily Value, and vitamins A and E at insufficient levels to be of nutritional importance. It does not contain detectable amounts of vitamin C and folic acid.

Bison meat contains many minerals but is highest in selenium, zinc, phosphorus, iron, copper and magnesium content. Bison meat is high in selenium, containing 47 percent of the Daily Value per serving. Selenium functions as an antioxidant, helping to prevent free radical damage. Bison meat is a major source of zinc, containing about 25 percent of the Daily Value per serving. Zinc is used in wound healing, protein metabolism and the storage and release of insulin. A serving of bison meat contains 20 percent of the Daily Value for phosphorus. Phosphorus functions in energy metabolism and nucleic acid synthesis, and is a component of bone and of some buffers.

A serving of bison meat is a good source of iron, containing 16 percent of the Daily Value. Iron helps transport oxygen to cells and carries carbon dioxide away from the cells. Iron is also important for immune function. Minerals present in a serving of bison meat to a lesser extent are potassium at 9 percent of the Daily Value, copper at 7 percent of the Daily Value, magnesium at 6 percent of the Daily Value, and calcium and manganese at levels insufficient to be of nutritional importance.

Bison meat contains 45 mg of sodium per serving, and is considered low in sodium, containing less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. Adults and children should consume less than 2,400 mg of sodium daily. Most Americans consume more sodium than recommended. High intakes of sodium have been associated with increased prevalence of hypertension.

The nutrient content data presented here are based on raw meats. Consumers and food service staff cook meat differently and, occasionally, improperly. Cooking can affect the nutrient composition of meat. The mineral content of the ribeye cut of bison has been reported to increase after broiling because of the loss of moisture in the meat during cooking. However, 59 percent of the thiamin, 68 percent of the vitamin B6, 67 percent of the vitamin B12 and 76 percent of the vitamin E were retained when bison patties were either broiled or grilled. Therefore, one might expect retentions of about two-thirds for the B-vitamins and about three-quarters for the fat-soluble vitamins.

Information source: Study conducted by University of Nebraska and University of South Dakota.
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