My husband was obsessed with burgers.
They were one of his guilty pleasures, and he was always on a quest to find the BEST one.
That was until he had a heart attack a few years back. When that happened one of my best friend’s announced “You two can stick to your fruits and veggies, and my husband and I will stick to our Twinkie’s and Ring Dings”! That said it all, as we were all in shock, “How could this be everyone asked?” You see, I am a Registered Dietician, we have always eaten really well, and exercised. My husband’s mantra is, “You are what you eat!” What?…
Well, that was a wake-up call for all of us, and although the signs were there, we were in denial. You see, heart disease runs in both our families and although our cholesterol was slightly elevated our doctors have always told us we were healthy, we exercised, and had nothing to worry about! Really? Even though heredity does play a huge role in cardiovascular disease, and our healthy lifestyle did prevent Steve’s heart attack from being much worse than it could have been, possibly fatal, his cardiologist said, we needed to get a bit more aggressive in our diet. God, how much more aggressive can we get, we thought? Well, I guess the burgers have to go.
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States. If you have heart disease, the American Heart Association’s guidelines suggest 5 to 6 percent of total calories come from saturated fat. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day – the average of what an adult eats each day – that’s 13 grams, not a lot if you like a good burger. According to the USDA database, an 80/20 beef burger has 6.85 grams of saturated fat alone.
Needless to say, Steve doesn’t get a burger much anymore other than one made from chicken, in fact very rarely, until I found out about our buffalo farm here on Long Island. The North Quarter Farm, in Riverhead has been raising almost organic Buffalo since 1986 (farmers pledge – just not USDA certified). Animals live in open pastures and are grass-fed living on hay, grass, potatoes and vegetable chop. You see, buffalo aka bison, they say, has about a quarter the amount of fat that our traditional cow has. Since it is low in cholesterol, fat, and calories, and rich in protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 like all meat, bison is known to be a heart-healthy red meat. What more could I ask for?
“We only sell it in our restaurants, Tweeds and The Dark Horse in Riverhead, as it is too costly and stresses the animals to follow the FDA’s regulations, and send them to Pennsylvania to a slaughter house”, said Dee Muma, co-owner of the farm and restaurants with her husband, Ed Tuccio. “They sell 5 lbs. of ground bison for $60.00.”
Wow, not cheap but I was now determined to make one of his favorites, minus the guilt! We had had buffalo once before, in Colorado and it has an almost sweet taste that is so succulent and tender that I like it better than beef. The burger was so incredibly juicy we didn’t know if we would ever have a “Real Burger” again we said. How could this be so good, and be good for you, we asked?
I researched and first find that the ground bison meat has a bit more fat than a bison steak would have, closer to a turkey or dark meat chicken burger is said to, but still double the amount of fat of a 80/20 ground beef burger. The National Bison Association promotes it as having only 2.4 grams of fat and 143 calories in 3.5 ounces cooked, compared to 8 grams of fat and 200 calories in a piece of “select” beef. That’s based on the leanest cuts, trimmed of all fat. Other bison cuts have 4 to 9 grams of fat and 165 to 190 calories, comparable to some lean beef cuts; ground bison meat can have 15 grams of fat and 240 calories in 3.5 ounces. WHAT 15 grams of fat for ground bison? I was confused.
Upon digging further, I find the attached chart from the USDA (click it to enlarge in a new window!). As you can see, 90% ground beef has 4g saturated fat vs 2.9g for the ground bison in a 3.5 oz. serving, not too much of a difference. I looked at “Fat Secret” calorie counter, and they use the USDA database, stating that a 4oz serving of 80/20 has 6.85g saturated fat. Ok, so that is more than double that of bison but for a slightly larger portion. The ground chicken and turkey are still less than the bison.
Sorry Steve, I guess we will have to stick to the chicken burgers, but you were a happy man, even if only for that moment…..
Oh….and the skies were not cloudy that day
P.S. Heres a quick idea for a pairing with your favorite turkey/chicken burger! Want the recipe? Join our mailing list below and request a copy sent to you PERSONALLY 🙂