Red meat, including burgers, tends to be overlooked as part of a nutritious diet; but moderate amounts fit perfectly into a balanced diet. Burger meat packs your meal with nutrients, like iron, vitamin B-12, and protein. If you're a generally healthy person, a burger once in a while may have some benefits.
Optimal Iron Levels
Iron carries oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. Red meats, such as burgers, are some of the best sources of heme iron. Heme iron is found only in animal-based foods, is highly bio-available, and easy for your body to use. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, your body absorbs as much as 35 percent of the heme iron that you acquire from meat, versus only 2 - 20 percent of non-heme iron from plant-based foods. Adult men need eight milligrams of iron each day, while women require 18 milligrams. Pregnant women are recommended to take up to 27 milligrams, and breastfeeding moms need nine milligrams. Four ounces of 90-percent lean broiled burger meat has more than three milligrams of iron.
Proper Red Blood Cell Function
Vitamin B-12 is essential for the production of new red blood cells. Without adequate B-12, red blood cells form abnormal shapes, resulting in decreased oxygen delivery throughout your body. Adults of both genders need 2.4 micrograms of B-12 each day. In some cases, women may need more. During pregnancy, you need 2.6 micrograms each day, which increases further to 2.8 micrograms if breastfeeding. A four-ounce broiled burger patty provides nearly three micrograms of vitamin B-12, helping you meet your daily recommendation from one meal.
Rich Protein Source
Burgers are rich in protein, but you should select the leanest varieties, such as 90 percent lean or more, to avoid consuming too much fat and calories. Protein gives structure to cells, builds lean muscle mass, and acts as a backup energy source when carbohydrates and fat are not available. Your diet should consist of 10 - 35 percent protein. Because protein has four calories per gram, this equates to 50 - 175 grams per day for a 2,000-calorie diet, depending on your activity level. Four ounces of cooked burger meat has more than 30 grams of protein.
Cook burger meat thoroughly to eliminate pathogens that lead to food-borne illnesses. Checking the meat with a thermometer helps you determine if it reaches the proper cooking temperature. Another concern of red meat is the high saturated fat content. Saturated fat hardens arteries, elevates blood pressure, and ups your risk of cardiovascular disease when you have too much. Do not have more than 10 percent of your total calories come from saturated fat, which contains nine calories per gram. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you can have a maximum of 22 grams of saturated fat per day. You'll acquire nearly 5.5 grams from four ounces of 90-percent lean burger meat.