Meat options for a diabetes diet

People with diabetes should choose lean meats to limit their intake of unhealthful fats. The Diabetic Exchange List can help with this.

The list, which a committee of the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association created, shows meat choices based on protein, fat, and calorie content.

The following sections show nutrients for a 1-ounce (oz) serving of meat. All portions contain 7 grams (g) of protein.

Very lean meat

Very lean meat has 1 g of fat and 35 calories per serving. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) list only turkey or chicken breast without the skin as being very lean.

Lean meat

Lean meat has 3 g of fat and 55 calories. These meats include:

  • some beef cuts, such as sirloin, flank steak, tenderloin, and chipped beef
  • lean pork, such as fresh, canned, cured, or boiled ham, Canadian bacon, and tenderloin
  • veal, except for veal cutlets
  • poultry, including chicken, turkey, and Cornish hen (without skin)
  • wild game, such as venison and rabbit, and including pheasant, duck, and goose without skin

It is important to note that certain meats, such as Canadian bacon and chipped beef, have a higher sodium content of 400 milligrams or more per serving.

Meats to eat in moderation

Some meats are less healthful than the lean options but may be suitable for consumption in moderation.

Medium fat meat

Medium fat meat contains 5 g of fat and 75 calories per 1-oz serving. People should eat smaller portions of medium fat meats or include them in the diet infrequently. Medium fat meats include:

  • ground beef, chuck steak, and T-bone steak
  • pork chops, loin roast, and cutlets
  • roasted lamb and lamb chops and leg
  • veal cutlets, either ground or cubed and unbreaded
  • poultry with skin, ground turkey, and domestic duck or goose
  • liver, heart, kidney, and sweetbreads
  • 86% fat-free luncheon meat (although this is high sodium)