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australian BEEF

Nutrition of Australian Beef

In Australia, cattle are predominantly pasture-fed, producing leaner beef that contains healthier types of fat, including Omega 3.

Australia is internationally recognized as free of all major livestock diseases. The Australian meat and livestock industry has had a long-term commitment to food safety, product integrity and traceability, and its product quality complements Australia’s focus on responsibility in meeting the demands of its international customers.

A recent survey found that increasing consumer demand for lean meat has led to a greater range of lean red cuts now available to choose from in stores. The average fat content of these popular cuts is:

  • Lean beef 4 g of fat/100 g
  • Lean lamb 6 g of fat/100 g
  • Lean veal 2 g of fat/100 g

When trimmed of visible fat, Australian Beef is lean and relatively low in unhealthy saturated fats. In fact, almost two-thirds of the fat in lean beef is the healthy, unsaturated kind, including long-chain Omega 3 fatty acids. Lean Australian Beef is an important source of protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and provides more iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and other nutrients than poultry, pork or fish.

Some still believe too much beef can cause high cholesterol or heart problems. This is due to the false perception that beef is high in total fat and saturated fat, two key factors known to raise blood cholesterol levels. Actually, the main source of total fat and saturated fat in the Australian diet is not today’s lean Australian Beef, but rather fast foods, snacks, oils, spreads, processed foods and the visible fat on untrimmed meat. So lean Australian Beef can be consumed as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet.

Nutrient composition (per 100 g) of commonly consumed raw white and red lean meat and fish

Nutrients  Lean Beef1,3   Lean Lamb1,2   Skinless Chicken5,6   Lean Pork5,6   Fresh Fish5,6  
Energy (kJ)  527  596  564  504  742 
Protein (g)  22.7  22.0  19.3  21.3  27.4 
Total Fat (g)  3.8  6.0  6.4  3.9  6.8 
Total Omega 3 (g)  0.11  0.16  0.06  0.04  0.2 
Iron (mg)  2.0  2.2  0.9  1.0  1.0 
Zinc (mg)  4.2  3.7  1.6  2.1  0.5 

Protein and Fat

The table above shows all meats contain a similar amount of protein; ranging from 27.4 g/100 g in fresh fish to 19.3 g/100 g in skinless chicken. Fat content differs more noticeably, with lean beef and lean pork containing the lowest amount at 3.8 g/100 g and 3.9 g/100 g respectively, and fresh fish containing the highest at 6.8 g/100 g of fat. In terms of Omega 3 (Linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid), fresh fish contains the highest levels at 0.2 g/100 g, with lean lamb and beef next at 0.16 g/100 g, and 0.11 g/100 g respectively.


Iron – The richest source of iron is lean lamb and beef (2.2 mg/100 g and 2.0 mg/100 g respectively), with more than double the levels found in skinless chicken, lean pork and fresh fish.
Zinc – Beef and lamb contain the most zinc (4.2 mg/100 g and 3.7 mg/100 g), more than double the levels found in skinless chicken and lean pork. Fresh fish contains only an eighth of the zinc levels found in beef.


Riboflavin – Lamb contains the highest levels of riboflavin (0.23 mg/100 g), with skinless chicken containing the least (0.13 mg/100 g).
Vitamin B12 – Lean beef and lamb contain the highest levels of vitamin B12 (1.1 mcg/100 g each), followed closely by fresh fish (1.0 mcg/100 g). Pork and skinless chicken contain the lowest levels.


1 Williams, P. et al. (2005), Nutrient composition of Australian red meat – Fatty acid profile (in press).
2 Williams P. et al. (2005), Nutrient composition of Australian red meat – Gross composition data (in press).
3 National Health and Medical Research Council (2003), Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults.
4 Li, D. et al. (2005), Lean meat and heart health, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 14(2):113-119.
5 Food Works.
6 USDA, USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Release at