Beef is a popular meat. It’s high in protein, versatile, and tasty too. There are lots of different beef cuts, and each one has a different texture and flavor. Each cut comes from a different part of the cow, and examples include sirloin, shank, rump, flank, and brisket.
Skirt steak is a popular cut of beef. Prized for its tenderness and flavor, skirt steak comes from the plate part of a cow, which is below the ribs and behind the front shank. Other names for skirt steak include Romanian tenderloin and Philadelphia steak.
Often marinated before cooking, skirt steak is the beef cut traditionally used in fajitas, Asian stir-fry, churrasco, and Cornish pasties. Because it’s quite a thin cut of beef, skirt steak cooks relatively quickly. However, it’s also suitable for cooking “low and slow,” which helps increase tenderness.
But, should skirt steak be part of your diet? Or should you avoid it? In this article, we’re going to take a look at skirt steak nutrition so you can decide whether you should eat it or not.
Skirt Steak Nutrition Facts
Beef is high in protein and contains various vitamins and minerals too. However, depending on the cut, beef can also be high in fat. Skirt steak is one of the leaner cuts of beef, which means it’s slightly lower in calories than things like ribeye and rump steak.
The nutrition breakdown for 100 grams of raw beef skirt steak looks like this:
- Calories – 203
- Protein – 20.4 grams
- Fat – 13.3 grams
- Saturated fat – 5.3 grams
- Cholesterol – 61.9 mg
- Carbohydrates – 0 grams
Beef skirt steak also contains the following vitamins and minerals in beneficial amounts:
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
In addition, beef skirt steak is a source of creatine, taurine, glutathione, and conjugated linoleic acid. These bioactive substances have numerous health benefits.
Is Skirt Steak Healthy?
Skirt steak, like all types of red meat, has the potential to be healthy. The benefits of eating skirt steak include:
Faster recovery after exercise: Skirt steak is high in protein, creatine, and taurine, all of which can contribute to muscle repair, recovery, and growth. Consuming beef is an easy and tasty way to fulfill your daily protein requirements.
Less age-related muscle loss: Muscle mass peaks between the ages of 20 to 30 and declines gradually after that. This is called sarcopenia (1). Consuming beef skirt steak or any other protein-rich food can help preserve muscle mass and decrease sarcopenia.
Prevention or treatment of anemia: Anemia is a common condition characterized by a decrease in the number of red blood cells, leading to a reduced ability to transport blood around the body. Symptoms of anemia include tiredness and weakness (2). Beef is a rich source of iron, which is critical for healthy and plentiful red blood cells.
Weight loss: High protein foods like skirt steak are very filling and also increase your metabolic rate. A meal made with beef should help ward off hunger for several hours, making it easier to stick to your chosen diet.
Beef can be grain-fed or grass-f As a rule, grass-fed meat is the healthier choice. Grass-fed beef is lower in fat, higher in vitamin E and antioxidants, contains more CLA, and is also higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. All in all, grass-fed beef is always the best (but usually the more expensive) option. It tastes better too!
Many people are wary about eating too much red meat and are concerned about the link between saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death in the developed world and describes a reduction in blood flow to the heart. Associated conditions include stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.
While some studies link red meat consumption to heart disease, many others do not. If you exercise, are not overweight, are a non-smoker, and have no underlying medical issues, eating beef probably won’t increase your risk of heart disease, especially if it’s part of an otherwise well-balanced diet (3).
Another risk of eating red meat is cancer. Overcooked meat contains heterocyclic amines, which are known carcinogens, which means they increase your chances of developing cancer (4). Because of this, you should avoid eating charred skirt steak.
Beef can also contain tapeworms, which are intestinal parasites. They’re rare in developed countries but more common in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Undercooked beef can contain tapeworm larvae, which can grow from 13-33 feet in length.
Beef allergies are very rare. Most people who are allergic to beef are also allergic to other meats as, nutritionally, all meats are very similar. The symptoms of beef allergy include:
- Weak pulse
- Swelling or the tongue and/or lips
- Stomach cramps
- Repetitive cough
- Hives around the mouth
- Difficulty breathing
Needless to say, if you are allergic to beef, you should not eat skirt steak. If you do experience a reaction to meat, you should consult your doctor for advice. If you have a severe allergy, you may need to carry and use epinephrine to counter the symptoms. This is normally in the form of an “epi-pen,” which is a self-administered injection.
Food Safety and Preparation
While you can eat very rare or even raw beef, doing so increases any potential health risks. Similarly, eating lots of overcooked beef is also unhealthy and could increase your risk of cancer.
To avoid problems, a skirt steak should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 63 degrees centigrade. It should then be left to rest for three minutes.
This ensures the beef is fully cooked and allows the meat to relax, making it more tender. Fresh raw beef skirt steak can be refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen for up to 12 months. Use a different cutting board for preparing meat than you do for vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.
While some people prefer not to eat red meat, beef skirt steak is a healthy food that is safe to enjoy. It’s high in protein, very tasty, and because it’s thin, easy, and quick to cook. Like all red meats, it’s high in iron and contains a wide range of beneficial nutrients, not least iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
Skirt steak does contain a reasonable amount of saturated fat, but that’s not the problem we once thought it was. There are other factors that increase your risk of heart disease, such as sedentarism, smoking, being overweight, and genetics.
Eating beef does not appear to have a significant impact on the risk of heart disease. Like all red meats, it IS important to avoid overcooking skirt steak. Charred steak might taste good but could also increase your risk of cancer.
The occasional well-done steak won’t do you much harm but consuming a lot of overcooked meat is not healthy. That said, prepared properly, skirt steak is a tasty and healthy cut of beef and deserves to be part of your diet.
- Clinical definition of sarcopenia, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269139/
- Anemia, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20351360
- Heart Disease, https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/
- Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet