Many years ago, bison used to roam the world as a very common species. Thousands of years in the past, certain types of bison went extinct as a result of hunting. When settlers came to the United States, bison was the most common form of meat for years since there were so many. Now, there are only two types of bison, with the American bison being the more common of the two. Despite overhunting, the American bison is still around today.
The cattle industry made sure that bison were still around, and people started to get a taste for bison once again in the 1990’s. It was then that people realized that not only was bison meat just as delicious as cattle, but it was also much healthier on average. People are starting to eat bison again, which has caused more bison farming. The numbers are now higher than they have been in over a century, making bison more affordable. So what is it about bison that’s causing a new craze? Let’s look at the nutritional value and the health benefits that you can get from eating more bison.
Nutrition of Bison
One of the big reasons that people are starting to eat more bison compared to other red meat is because of the huge nutritional value. Three ounces of ground and grass-fed bison only contain around 150 calories, with no carbohydrates and nearly half of your daily recommendation of protein with 21.6 grams. Bison is lower in fat than many other meats, with 7.3 grams of total fat, 3.0 of those grams being saturated. Out of the vitamins, vitamin B12 is the most abundant with 35 percent of your daily recommendation, and 25 percent of your niacin recommendation.
Bison is also a terrific source for other vitamins that include riboflavin, vitamin B6 and thiamin. In the mineral department, you get between 30 and 40 percent of your daily zinc and selenium recommendations. There’s between 10 to 20 percent of recommended iron, phosphorus and potassium levels, with a nice boost in copper. Cholesterol might be a bit higher than you’d like, but bison doesn’t have nearly as much as red meats.
People that are trying to build muscle tend to eat a lot of meat, especially in the lean meat department. After quite some time, though, you can only have so much chicken or turkey breast before you start to go crazy. When you get the taste for red meat, you’re better suited off eating bison if you’re trying to keep the calories low and protein high. After all, bison contains nearly half of your daily recommendation of protein in just three ounces and 150 calories.
Muscles aren’t the only thing that you’re helping out when you’re eating protein. Protein is the building block for many parts of the body that includes your bones. If you get sore from exercising constantly, getting more protein into your diet helps the recovery time cut down tremendously. This applies to muscles, tendons, ligaments and more. All that with a very low amount of fat.
Vitamin C is usually the first nutrient that you think of when it comes to bison, and there isn’t much of that in each serving. So what is it about bison that makes it so beneficial for immunity health? Bison contains a high amount of zinc that a lot of people aren’t typically getting in their diets. Zinc is just as important as vitamin C in helping to boost your immune system, keeping the common cold and flu away.
It doesn’t stop there with zinc, as it also helps to heal your wounds and allows for cell growth that’s important for young people. Zinc deficiency isn’t quite as common in developed countries around the world, but those that aren’t quite as developed could use more zinc from foods such as bison. While you might not be craving a bison burger when you have the sniffles, you could do much worse.
Zinc isn’t the only metal you’ll find in large amounts while eating bison. Iron is another one, which your body needs for many different reasons. You might be (or know someone who is) anemic, meaning that they aren’t getting enough iron. Anemia happens when your blood doesn’t get the necessary amount of red blood cells, a direct result of not having the proper amount of iron in the blood.
The biggest symptom of suffering from anemia is a severe fatigue where you don’t feel like you can even stand. This can be quite common in pregnant women, so it’s important to have enough iron. Children also need high amounts of iron. Another bonus that iron brings is the ability to fight off infections and even increase your brain’s function.
One more bonus that a healthy amount of iron brings is the benefit to your exterior appearance, as well. Your skin will have its natural color, allowing you to look more glowing when getting enough iron. To take it even further in the cosmetic department, bison contains many B vitamins that include vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and niacin.
All of these vitamins are not only good for your interior organs, but promote healthier skin that’s free of blemishes and hair that grows thicker and faster. For maximum skin health, eating fruits and vegetables along with bison is going to have tremendous results. Plus, you’ll be burning fat and building muscle to top it all off.
Better For the Heart
Many people think that avoiding saturated fat altogether is going to be helpful, but you you still need between five to seven percent of your daily calories to come from this category. This will actually help your heart when you control saturated fat to a low amount above zero, which you can do with bison. Though bison isn’t going to be a big cholesterol attacker, the nutrients that include protein will be able to help you build a stronger heart. Again, mixing fruits and vegetables in with bison is ideal.
Summing it Up
People have been switching to bison in recent years now because of the healthier nutritional value compared to similar meats, but just how much better of an option is it? While bison is lower in fat content than other meats such as ground beef, it still does contain fat, and specifically, saturated fat. It’s healthy to have saturated fat since it has its benefits in your body, but you don’t want too much of it. This means that you can substitute bison for ground beef, but just make sure that you throw in some lean meats in your diet, as well.
Keeping your meat consumption to around 18 ounces per week is the recommendation from the American Institute of Cancer Research, including bison. Of course, making all 18 of those ounces bison instead of beef is going to help you tremendously. As long as you’re watching your intake each week, bison makes for a great part of a well rounded diet, especially if you don’t want to give up red meat. The fact that it tastes just as good (if not better) than other meats is just a bonus.