Buffalo and Nutrition: A Healthy Connection

Is buffalo meat expensive?

Buffalo can be expensive when compared to beef or pork but todays economic conditions have increased the price of all meats, making buffalo meat more competative. Remember, you get a lot of nutrition for the price. Buffalo has very little fat, with less waste compared to other meats. Also, there is very little shrinkage during cooking.

How do I cook buffalo?

Buffalo meat cuts are very similar to beef, but the color of the meat is a darker red. That is because buffalo meat does not have streaks of fat in it, called marbling, like beef. Since buffalo has a lower fat content, it will cook faster than beef. Fat in meat slows the cooking process by acting as an insulator. The heat has to break through the fat layers, then the meat begins to cook. The benefit of fat is that it enhances the taste of the meat but adds calories not so with buffalo meat, no extra calories. Added flavors can be added by using spices.

Buffalo should be cooked at a lower temperature. The motto for buffalo cookery is "low and slow". That means if you cook buffalo meat at a lower temperature, you will slow the cooking process and keep the meat from becoming tough. By cooking buffalo meat at a temperature of 275'F until the internal temperature reaches 155 to 170'F, you will ensure the best quality and most tender meat.

Remember that the more tender the cuts of buffalo, as in all meats, the drier the cooking method such as broiling, roasting, and grilling. Tender cuts of buffalo would include the tenderloin, strip loin, ribeye, sirloin, brisket, flank, Tri Tip, and ground buffalo.

Less tender cuts of buffalo may be cooked using a moist heat method such as braising, pressure cooking, stewing, or slow cooker. Cuts that are generally less tender are stew meat, top and bottom rounds, eye of round, osso buco,short and back ribs.

Buffalo can be used as a substitue for beef in all of your favorite recipes. It can be prepared using all the low-fat meat cooking techniques that you are familiar with such as roasting, slow cooking (crock pot), broiling, grilling, and stir frying.

We need to look to our past, and remember what healthy lifestyles our ancestors had. They were very active, ate foods that were high in fiber, low in fat, and sugars. Fruits and vegetables were eaten often. They ate food in healthy portions and maintained a healthy weight. Those are all practices that should be incorporated into our modern lifestyles.

Remember to:

  • Breastfeed all babies for at least four to six months unless prevented by health problems or poor diet
  • Exercise three-five days per week for at least 30 minutes. Include a variety of activities in your exercise program such as walking, gardening, and biking. Exercising with someone else will keep you motivated. It is also a good idea to include your chlidren while exercising. They can benefit from the exercise too!
  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. That means trying to eat a combination of five fruit and vegetable serving, not five servings of each. Try to include a variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. If you are woried about the price, buy them in season when they are on sale more often.
  • Choose lean meats every day. Lean meats include buffalo, deer, chicken, fish, and certain cuts of beef and pork. The Food Guide Pyramid suggests two or three servings daily. One serving equals two-three ounces of meat, which is the size of the palm of a women's hand or a deck of cards.
  • Choose foods that are low in sugar. Fresh fruits are examples of foods low in sugar. Do not eat foods that are high in sugar, such as pop, candy, and cookies or when you eat them do so in moderation.
  • Choose low fat foods daily. Skim milk, vegetables, and whole wheat breads are examples of food low in fat. Eat foods that are high in fat, such as potato chips, fried chicken, and donuts in moderation.

What is the connection between our ancestors, buffalo, and diabetes?

Our ancestors ate when they were hungry, ate unprocessed foods, drank only water and had tremendous physical activities,and in general lived much like the buffalo. By doing so they had no heart diseases, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

  • Our ancestors and buffalo had hard lives with plenty of physical activities.
  • Buffalo continue to be active when they are on the range.
  • Native people must follow that example of being active and exercise daily.

Healthy food intake will reduce diabetes.

  • Our ancestors ate healthful foods in amounts based on their activity level.
  • Today, buffalo still need to be able to eat foods that help them live healthy lives
  • Today, Native people must learn to select foods that will help them stay healthy
- Low sugar foods
- Low fat foods
- High fiber foods
- Eat meals together as a family.

A healthy lifestyle will reduce diabetes.

  • Our ancestors breastfed their babies, protected their young and old, respected the bearer of offspring, and made decisions for the good of the group.
  • Today, herds are observed continuing these lifestyles.
  • Today, Native people must establish these same family-orientated healthy lifestyles.

Why eat buffalo?

  • Buffalo is a nutrient dense food. That means it is full of good nutrition compared to the amount of calories it provides.
  • Buffalo is a good source of protein.
  • Buffalo is low in fat.
  • Buffalo is high in many vitamins such as vitamins B12 and B6.
  • Buffalo is high in many minerals such as iron and zinc.
  • Buffalo adds variety to our diets.
  • Buffalo tastes great and is full of flavor.

How does it compare to other meats?

Buffalo is an excellent substitute for red meat, such as beef, pork, deer, or elk, in our diets. It is low in fat and calories.

Buffalo: Calories: 31, Fat: 0.4g, Protein: 6g, Cholesterol: 19mg

Beef: Calories: 37, Fat: 1g, Protein: 6g, Cholesterol: 16mg

Pork: Calories: 38, Fat: 1g, Protein: 6g, Cholesterol: 17mg

Chicken: Calories: 33, Fat: 1g, Protein: 6g, Cholesterol: 23mg

*Per 1 ounce of raw meat
**All amounts are rounded to the nearest whole number.
***Based on similar cuts for each animal.

Remember that if you do not trim all the visible fat or if you add fat such as butter, oil, or margarine during the cooking process, you will increase the amount of fat in the meat.

 

Sources:
Maginnis, Berdine, and Linda Boeckner. "Cooking with Bison Meat." Nebraska Cooperative Extension (NF98-360), March 1998. http://www.ianr.unl.edu/pubs/foods/nf360.htm 01/30/2001.

Northwest Bison Association. "Why should I eat buffalo (ie, bison) meat?" http://www.nwbison.org/eat_buffalo.htm

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. 1999. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 13. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp. 03/19/2001