In 2016, the American bison was named our national mammal. And unlike with the bald eagle, our national bird, we can actually eat it. Which is great, considering that bison is packed with protein and nutrients. But is it a better red meat for you than cow beef?

Leslie Bonci, R.D., owner of Active Eating Advice (, notes that both bison and beef are high in iron, zinc, and B12. But ground bison provides a lot more protein per serving.

If you’re working with ground beef, Bonci suggests choosing a 90-10 or 93-7 meat-to-fat ratio. And bison, a naturally lean meat, works well in nearly all recipes that call for beef, so feel free to substitute.

Whichever you opt for—and whether you’re making burgers, meatballs, or meat loaf—Bonci recommends adding something for extra moisture, like salsa, barbecue sauce, or even balsamic vinegar. You can also load up with chopped veggies for more texture, flavor, and nutrition.

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To further maximize the health benefits, keep servings to four or five ounces, and watch your add-ons. Mayo and creamy sauces will increase calories quickly, so opt for mustards or even sriracha. Want cheese? Add a little blue cheese, Gorgonzola, or feta right into the ground meat mixture. Then just pan sear or broil your meat until it’s ready to go.

The Stats: 4 oz of ground bison

  • 227 calories
  • 34.8g protein
  • 9.7g fat
  • 0 carbs

The Stats: 4 oz of ground beef (90-10 fat ratio)

  • 200 calories
  • 23g protein
  • 11g fat
  • 0 carbs

And the winner is…Bison!

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