Although roaming the North American Plains for hundreds of years, bison is a relative newcomer to dinner tables in the U.S. Nutrient-rich bison has gained a great deal of acceptance and bison burgers, chili, stews and other dishes are popping up in kitchens across the country.
Eating a diet low in total and saturated fat may help lower the risk of many chronic conditions including heart disease, obesity and some cancers. If you enjoy red meat but want to limit fat and saturated fat in your diet, bison, with its sweet, rich flavor, is a practical and versatile choice.
A 3-ounce grass-fed bison burger has 124 calories and 6 grams of total fat. This same serving of bison is relatively low in cholesterol (47 mg), is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and a good source of iron.
If possible, choose grass-fed bison over its grain-fed counterpart. Grass-fed bison may contain up to five times more selenium than grain-fed bison (selenium is a mineral that works as an antioxidant, aids cell growth and boosts immune system function). Grass-fed bison are also slightly lower in total fat, cholesterol and calories. The meat of grass-fed bison has a higher percentage of polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed bison. Bison are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.
Since it is leaner than other red meat, bison easily can be overcooked. Braising or stewing work best with large, less tender cuts, such as the brisket. Broiling, grilling and pan frying are ideal for thinner cuts, including sirloin tip and inside round steaks. Enjoy it in hamburgers, chilies, meatballs, pasta sauces, fajitas, nachos and stroganoff. Bison can also be substituted for venison in most dishes.
Bison can be found in farmers' markets, local supermarkets or specialty stores. Many online companies offer mail-order services. Use or freeze ground raw bison within two days, or three to five days for large cuts. Uncooked ground bison can be frozen up to four months and large cuts up to nine months.
Reviewed April 2013
Karen Ehrens, RD; Nicole Anziani, MS, RD, CDN, CLC; and Chef J. Hugh McEvoy, CRC, CEC, Cd.R contributed to this article.