Fat And Cholesterol Content Of Wild Game

December 10, 1997

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- With the spoils of buck season -- venison steaks and deer bologna -- now in the refrigerator-freezer, health-conscious hunters and their families may want to know how wild game compares to domesticated meat in terms of fat and cholesterol.

"Many people in rural areas consume a significant amount of wild game," says Dr. J. Lynne Brown, associate professor of food science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "But information on the fat and cholesterol content of deer, squirrel and other game often is lacking.

"Game meat tends to have the same amount of cholesterol as beef or pork, but considerably less fat than domestic meat," says Brown.

Nutrition experts agree it is important for all adults -- but especially those with heart problems -- to limit their fat and cholesterol intake.

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that healthy adults limit their daily cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams and their fat intake to no more than 30 percent of total calories consumed daily.

The following table shows how wild game stacks up in comparison to beef and pork. The beef sample used is a well-trimmed USDA standard grade. All samples are 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw meat. The skin was removed from the birds.

Meat Fat Cholesterol Calories (grams) (milligrams)
Beef 2.7 69 158 Pork 4.9 71 165
White-tailed deer 1.4 113 153
Mule deer 1.6 85 151
Antelope 1.0 113 148
Buffalo 3.2 45 146
Squirrel 3.2 83 149
Cottontail rabbit 2.4 77 144
Chicken (domestic) 0.7 58 140
Turkey (domestic) 1.5 60 146
Turkey (wild) 1.1 58 158

Many hunters and their families like to eat organ meats of wild game. The cholesterol content of both heart muscle and liver is high. Heart muscle contains 275 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 ounces of tissue and liver contains 450 milligrams per 3.5 ounces.

"The extent that you should worry about these cholesterol and fat figures should be balanced with how often you eat these organ meats," says Brown. "If heart stew is a once-a-year specialty dish, a moderate portion shouldn't cause problems."

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EDITORS: For more information, contact J. Lynne Brown at 814-863-3973 or Chuck Gill Chuck_Gill@agcs.cas.psu.edu 814-863-2713 814-865-1068 fax

Last Updated March 19, 2009