This doesn’t mean you should make butter, fatty cuts of meat, and cream the focus of your diet, but it’s important to choose foods based on their nutritional value rather than their fat, cholesterol, or calorie content.
Abby K. Cannon, JD, RD, CDN, agrees. “I’m more concerned with quality than leanness,” Cannon tells mindbodygreen. “I usually use the term ‘good quality’ protein instead of ‘lean’ when discussing protein with my clients and when creating meal plans,” she says.
For example, compared to egg whites9, egg yolks10 are high in fat and cholesterol, but also provide essential nutrients lacking in egg whites like B12, zinc, iron, selenium, and choline. Higher-fat protein options like salmon with skin11 are much richer in most vitamins and minerals compared to lean, skinless fish like cod12.
The bottom line is that lean doesn’t translate to healthier. All it means is that a food is low in fat and cholesterol.