Lamb vs Beef: Which Is Better?

Turkey breast (white meat, no skin)Chicken breast  (white meat, no skin)
Iron0.7 mg (4% DV)0.45mg (2% DV)
Sodium99 mg (4% DV)360mg (26% DV)
Zinc1.7 mg (16% DV)0.9 mg (8% DV)
Magnesium32 mg (8% DV)28 mg (7% DV)
Phosphorus230 mg (18% DV)229 mg (18% DV)
Potassium249 mg (10% DV)359 mg (14% DV)
Copper0.063 mg (7% DV)0.047 mg (5% DV)
Selenium30.2 mcg (55% DV)30.6 mcg (55% DV)
Turkey breast  (white meat, no skin)Chicken breast (white meat, no skin)Turkey (dark, meat, no skin)Chicken (dark meat, no skin)
Calories147 calories161 calories173 calories178 calories
Protein30 g30 g27.7 g23.2 g
Total Fat2.1 g3.5 g6 g8.7 g
Saturated Fat0.6 g0.75 g1.8 g2.4 g
Sodium99 mg (4% DV)360mg (26% DV)104 mg (4% DV)95 mg (4% DV)
Niacin11.8 mg (74% DV)10.3 mg (63% DV)7 mg (44% DV)6 mg (38% DV)
Vitamin B60.8 mg (62% DV)0.87 mg (67% DV)0.44mg (34% DV)0.3 mg (23 % DV)
Zinc1.7 mg (16% DV)0.9 mg (8% DV)3.5 mg (32 % DV)2.1mg (19% DV)
Cholesterol80 mg (27%)98 mg (33% DV)128 mg (42% DV)75 mg (25% DV)

If you’re a meat lover looking for nutritious meat to add to recipes, you may wonder whether lamb or beef is better for you. 

Beef is a popular choice in the American diet, while lamb is less popular. Both are good choices but have unique characteristics that set them apart. 

For example, beef is a great source of vitamin C and iron, while lamb has higher levels of copper, selenium, and magnesium.

Keep reading to learn all you need to know about the differences and similarities between lamb and beef and which one you should choose.

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Ground Beef vs Ground Lamb


Lamb has a distinctly unique flavor, typically described as gamey or earthy. It has a flavor that is a bit milder than beef and with a slightly sweet undertone.

Beef has a rich, savory flavor that is described as meaty and juicy. It has a slightly nutty and sweet undertone.


Lamb is a nutrient-rich meat high in protein, iron, and vitamin B12. It is also lower in fat and calories than beef.

Beef is a nutrient-dense meat high in protein, iron, and vitamin B12. It also has more calories and fat than lamb.

Uses and Versatility

Lamb is versatile in various dishes, from meatballs and burgers to shepherd’s pie and curry.

Beef is another versatile meat perfect for many dishes, from tacos and chili to meatloaf and spaghetti bolognese.

Lamb vs. Beef Price

Lamb is typically more expensive than beef. This is because lamb is a less common meat requiring more care and attention to produce. Lamb is also more delicate, so it is more susceptible to spoilage.

Is Lamb Healthier Than Beef?

Whether lamb is healthier than beef depends on individual health goals and taste preferences. 

Beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein, essential for muscle health and overall well-being. It is rich in iron, a necessary nutrient for transporting oxygen in the blood, and provides significant amounts of vitamin C, supporting immune function and collagen synthesis. However, the fat content in beef, especially saturated fat, may be a concern for individuals aiming to manage their cholesterol levels and lose weight.

Lamb is also a source of complete protein, but it has higher levels of copper, selenium, and magnesium, all of which support the body’s defense against oxidative stress, thyroid function, and bone health. 

While lamb does contain saturated fat, only about 36% of the fat is saturated. The remainder is mono or polyunsaturated fat, considered healthy fat.

The choice between lamb and beef should align with your individual health goals and dietary preferences. Consider fat content, specific nutrient profiles, and personal taste preferences when making this decision. As with any dietary choice, balance and moderation are key to maintaining a healthy and well-rounded diet.

Lamb vs. Beef Nutrition

You might still be wondering which is better to incorporate into your diet: lamb or beef. In this section, we will compare the nutritional content of both and discuss the vitamins and minerals that meat offers. 

Lamb and beef are both types of red meat, so they have similar nutritional profiles.

Lamb (3.5-oz serving of ground lamb) Beef (3.5-oz serving of ground beef)
Calories 283 256
Total Fat 19.7 grams (g) 15.3 g
Saturated fat 8.1 g 5.8 g
Monounsaturated fat 8.3 g 6.6 g
Polyunsaturated fat 1.4 g 0.5 g
Protein 25 g 27.7 g
Niacin 34% of the Daily Value (DV)* 27% of the DV
Zinc 31% of the DV 42% of the DV
Selenium 40% of the DV 31% of the DV
Iron 11-23% of the DV 11-26% of the DV
Vitamin B12 43% of the DV 44% of the DV

Although lamb has slightly more calories and fat than beef, the two types of meat have comparable levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Lamb has more selenium, while beef has more zinc. Both types of meat are good sources of iron, particularly heme iron, which is more bioavailable than the iron found in plants.

Grass-fed lamb has more heart-healthy omega-3 fats than both grain-fed and grass-fed beef. Although lamb has slightly less protein than beef, it is richer in all of the essential amino acids, especially tryptophan, which is about three times more abundant in lamb than in beef.

Both lamb and beef contain the healthy fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been linked to weight loss and cardiovascular, metabolic, and cognitive health. Lamb has a bit more CLA than beef. One study compared fat content from seven types of meats and found that lamb had the highest CLA concentrations, at up to 19.9mg per gram of fat, with beef coming in second place, providing up to 10mg per gram of fat.

Glycemic Index

As with most meats, lamb and beef have a glycemic index of 0. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure used for carbohydrate-containing foods, indicating how quickly they raise blood glucose levels. Since lamb and beef are primary sources of protein and do not contain significant amounts of carbohydrates, they do not have a GI.

Graphic Lamb GI
Graphic Beef GI


Comparing the vitamin content of lamb and beef reveals some differences in nutrient profiles:

Lamb (3.5-oz serving of ground lamb) Beef (3.5-oz serving of ground beef)
Vitamin B12 2.5 mcg 2.5 mcg
Niacin (Vitamin B3) 6.2 mg 7.1 mg
Vitamin B6 0.3 mg 0.4 mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 0.3 mg 0.2 mg
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) 1.5 mg 1.1 mg
Vitamin A 32 IU 1 IU
Vitamin D 0.7 IU 0 IU

While lamb and beef offer essential vitamins, the exact nutrition profile is based on factors such as cuts, preparation methods, and animal diets. Including various meats in a balanced diet ensures a diverse nutrient intake.


Both lamb and beef contain essential minerals, but there are some differences.

Lamb (3.5-oz serving of ground lamb) Beef (3.5-oz serving of ground beef)
Iron 2.7 mg 2.5 mg
Zinc 5.4 mg 6.4 mg
Selenium 25.3 mcg 19.5 mcg
Phosphorus 182 mg 180 mg
Copper 0.2 mg 0.1 mg
Magnesium 20 mg 20 mg
Potassium 300 mg 270 mg

Amino Acids

Beef and lamb are both excellent sources of high-quality protein and offer distinct amino acid profiles. 

Beef provides a robust array of essential amino acids, crucial for muscle building, immune function, and overall body maintenance. 

Beef is particularly high in leucine, isoleucine, and valine—essential branched-chain amino acids that support muscle growth and repair. 

Lamb stands out for its high levels of lysine, an essential amino acid vital for protein synthesis, collagen formation, and calcium absorption. Lamb also contains higher levels of tryptophan, which contributes to serotonin production and potentially influences mood regulation. 

Including a combination of lamb and beef in your diet ensures a well-rounded intake of these essential amino acids.

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  1. Ponnampalam, E. N., Butler, K. L., Jacob, R. H., Pethick, D. W., Ball, A. J., Edwards, J. E., Geesink, G., & Hopkins, D. L. (2014). Health beneficial long chain omega-3 fatty acid levels in Australian lamb managed under extensive finishing systems. Meat science, 96(2 Pt B), 1104–1110.
  2. Schmid, A., Collomb, M., Sieber, R., & Bee, G. (2006). Conjugated linoleic acid in meat and meat products: A review. Meat science, 73(1), 29–41.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Ok to Eat Lamb Every Day?

While lamb is a nutritious protein source, eating it daily may only be appropriate for some due to its high fat content. Eating various protein sources, including plant-based sources, is best to ensure a diverse nutrient intake.

Is Lamb Hard to Digest for Humans?

Lamb can be easily digested by most people, especially when cooked properly. However, digestibility may vary from person to person. Preparation methods can influence digestibility.

How Often Should You Eat Lamb?

How often you should eat land depends on your dietary preferences, nutritional needs, and health goals. Including lamb in a well-rounded diet can provide essential nutrients, but balance and variety are recommended.

Is Lamb Good for Building Muscle?

Yes, lamb is a good source of high-quality protein, essential for muscle building and repair. It contains essential amino acids, including leucine, which plays a key role in muscle protein synthesis. Incorporating lamb into a balanced diet can contribute to muscle health.

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