Bison: Nutrition 101
Mike Roussell, PhD
Bison is North America’s original red meat. At one point over 30 million bison roamed North America. Bison almost single handedly fueled and sustain Native American tribes for years. Unfortunately, the bison population was decimated leaving an estimate 1,000 bison in the last 19th Century.
A select group of dedicated individuals have worked for over a century to rebuild and grown the bison population in American. As a result, you will have likely seen a larger variety of bison cuts available for purchase making bison a more and more popular protein source for people looking to fuel a healthy, strong, and active life.
What Can Bison Do For You?
Bison is an extremely nutritious meat that packs a lot of nutrition for not a lot of calories. This is important for athletes or people that are controlling calories as part of their weight loss efforts. Research shows that the more you reduce your calories, the more nutritionally dense your foods need to be in order to maintain a healthy and optimal diet.
One cooked 3.5oz portion of bison, about the size of a deck of card (yes, that isn’t very much meat!) contains 28g of protein - just the right amount and mix of essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to maximize your body’s ability to build and repair your muscles.
Also, on the muscle building front, bison is a natural source of creatine. Creatine is produced by our bodies but optimal creatine levels in our muscles can only be achieved when we get additional creatine from our diet and though supplementation. When muscular levels of creatine are increased the body is able to perform better when it comes to tests of power and strength.
Just one serving of bison also contains >40% of the daily iron needs for men (20% of daily needs for women). Unlike derived plant sources of iron, the iron that is found in bison is heme iron. This is a protected form of iron that is readily absorbed by your body. Its absorption isn’t impacted by other foods that you might be eating (unlike plant derived iron). Iron is important not just for oxygen transport (getting oxygen to your brain and working muscles) but also for supporting optimal brain function and development. Another key nutrient for optimal brain function is Vitamin B12. Eating 1 small serving of Bison contains all the vitamin B12 your body needs for the day!
In addition to protein, creatine, iron, and vitamin B12 - bison also contains the following essential vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
Whether you are looking to lose weight, improve health, or enhance your physical performance bison is a lean nutrient packed protein source that should be the menu as your house.