are beef ribs healthy

Are Beef Ribs Healthy? A Nutritionist’s Take
By John Smith

Beef ribs are a popular barbecue staple that can be found on many restaurant menus and backyard grills during the summer months. But with more people becoming concerned about healthy eating, you may be wondering – are beef ribs actually good for you?

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the nutritional profile of beef ribs to find out if they deserve a spot on your plate.

What are Beef Ribs?

Beef ribs come from the rib section of a cow. There are two main types:

  • Back ribs: Also called short ribs, these are cut from the back of the ribcage near the spine. They tend to be meatier and have more fat.

  • Spare ribs: Taken from below the backbone closer to the belly. These ribs are longer and leaner.

Beef ribs are sold attached to the bone in racks or cut into individual ribs. They can be prepared many ways but are most often grilled, smoked, or braised until the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender.

Nutrition Facts: How Healthy Are Beef Ribs?

Here are some key nutritional facts about 3 ounces of beef spare ribs:

  • Calories: 221
  • Fat: 16g
  • Saturated fat: 6g
  • Protein: 16g
  • Iron: 2mg (12% DV)
  • Zinc: 3mg (23% DV)
  • Vitamin B12: 1.3mcg (22% DV)

In general, beef ribs are high in protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and other nutrients. However, they are also high in saturated fat.

Let’s analyze the pros and cons in more detail:

Potential Benefits of Beef Ribs

  • High in protein. A serving of beef ribs contains over half of the recommended daily intake. Protein provides amino acids that are vital for building and repairing muscles.

  • Rich in iron. Beef is one of the best sources of heme iron, the most bioavailable form. Iron carries oxygen, supports immunity, and aids energy.

  • Good source of zinc. This mineral is necessary for a healthy immune system and wound healing. It also enables protein synthesis.

  • Contains B vitamins. Riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 are all found in beef. These vitamins help convert food into fuel and form red blood cells.

  • Provides other nutrients. Beef ribs supply small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and potassium.

Potential Downsides of Beef Ribs

  • High in saturated fat. The 16g of fat per serving is mostly saturated. Diets high in saturated fat raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels which increases heart disease risk.

  • Can be high in sodium. Salt is commonly used to season and preserve beef ribs. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure in some individuals.

  • Risk of carcinogens when charred. Cooking any meat above 300°F can produce heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – compounds linked to cancer.

  • Cause digestive issues for some. The high fat content may trigger acid reflux or indigestion in sensitive people. Those with gout are also advised to limit purine-rich meats like beef.

Overall, beef ribs can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet for most healthy individuals. But portions should be controlled, and they are best consumed only occasionally, not daily.

Tips for Choosing Healthier Beef Ribs

If you want to reduce the fat and sodium content of beef ribs, here are some helpful tips:

  • Select leaner spare ribs over fattier back ribs. They have less marbling and external fat.

  • Look for “loin back ribs” which come from closer to the tenderloin and are more tender with less fat.

  • Choose grass-fed over grain-fed beef whenever possible. Grass-fed has a better overall nutritional profile.

  • Remove the membrane from the bone side which contains a lot of fat.

-Trim off any thick layers of external fat before cooking.

  • Rub the ribs with spices instead of soaking them in sugary barbecue sauce.

  • Monitor cooking temperature and don’t char them.

  • Avoid adding extra salt during seasoning or at the table.

Healthy Ways to Cook Beef Ribs

You can take steps to make beef ribs a bit healthier by using these cooking methods:

  • Oven bake instead of grill or smoke them. Bake at a lower temperature like 275°F until tender.

  • Braise in a Dutch oven with vegetables and broth instead of oil.

  • Grill quickly over direct high heat instead of slow smoking which causes more fat to render out.

  • Finish cooking in the oven or on the cooler side of the grill if charring.

  • Remove some of the fat cap before cooking and discard drippings after.

  • Use a dry rub of spices – no sugar added – to add flavor without excess calories.

  • Serve with fresh vegetables instead of creamy, heavy sides. Grilled corn, coleslaw, or a salad are great options.

Healthy Beef Ribs Recipe (Oven Baked)

This oven-baked recipe uses a homemade barbecue sauce to add big flavor without too much sugar. Paired with veggies, it makes a healthy, balanced meal:


  • 1 rack beef spare ribs (membrane removed)
  • 1⁄2 cup homemade barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp each salt, garlic powder, onion powder
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 ears corn, husked
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix bag


  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Pat ribs dry and trim any excess fat. Rub with the spices.
  2. Place ribs meaty side down in a foil pouch. Add 1⁄4 cup barbecue sauce on top. Seal foil tight.
  3. Bake for 3 hours until tender. Carefully remove ribs from foil. Brush with remaining 1⁄4 cup sauce.
  4. Increase oven temp to 400°F. Bake ribs 10 minutes more to caramelize sauce.
  5. Grill corn on cob over high heat for 5 minutes, rotating frequently.
  6. Toss coleslaw mix with 1 tbsp olive oil, cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
  7. Serve ribs with corn and coleslaw.

Per Serving (1 rib, 1⁄2 corn

The Ultimate Carnivore Recipe – Oven Beef Back Ribs – Fall Off The Bone and Addictive – Keto Recipe

Are beef ribs healthy?

As part of a healthy diet, beef ribs can provide several essential dietary nutrients. A 3-oz. serving of beef ribs 2, weighs 85 g. Around 20 g of this amount is protein. The same portion of ribs also includes 24 g, or 37 percent of the dietary fat recommended for each day, with around 10 g of that amount being saturated fat.

Which rib is best for barbecue?

If you plan to slow-cook your ribs, beef short ribs or beef brisket are great choices. If you plan to grill or smoke them, beef back ribs or beef ribeye roast are the way to go. Whichever cut you choose, give it plenty of time and attention to ensure it comes out deliciously tender and flavorful. What Are The Best Beef Ribs For Barbecue?

What kind of ribs should I Cook?

Ultimately, it depends on your preference and what type of cooking method you’ll use. If you plan to slow-cook your ribs, beef short ribs or beef brisket are great choices. If you plan to grill or smoke them, beef back ribs or beef ribeye roast are the way to go.

How many calories are in a serving of beef ribs?

There are approximately 300 calories in a 3-oz. serving of beef ribs 2. Over two thirds of those calories, or 219 calories, come from fat. Protein makes up around 83 calories. Protein makes up around 83 calories. Beef ribs are also a good source of several important vitamins.

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