Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Filet Mignon Bad For You?

Also Known As: Beef tenderloin, Fillet steak



Short answer

Consuming filet mignon in moderation is not bad for you. While it contains saturated fat, it is also a rich source of protein and essential nutrients like iron and B vitamins. Opting for healthier cooking methods, such as grilling or broiling, and practicing portion control can allow you to include filet mignon in a balanced diet. It is relatively lower in saturated fat compared to other beef cuts and can be part of a heart-healthy lifestyle when consumed occasionally and prepared with minimal added fats.



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Long answer

Saturated Fat Content in Filet Mignon

The consumption of filet mignon, a tender cut of beef taken from the smaller end of the tenderloin, is often considered a luxury due to its tenderness and flavor. However, an important consideration for health-conscious diners is the saturated fat content present in this cut of meat. Saturated fats are particular types of fats found in various animal and dairy products, associated with higher cholesterol levels, which can influence heart disease risk.

When examining the saturated fat content in filet mignon, it's crucial to understand the nutritional composition of this meat cut:

  • A standard 3-ounce serving of grilled filet mignon contains approximately 2.3 grams of saturated fat, as per the USDA FoodData Central database.
  • In comparison to other beef cuts, filet mignon is relatively lower in saturated fat. However, it is not the leanest option available.
  • Dietary guidelines suggest limiting saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total daily calories for heart health. In a 2,000-calorie diet, this would be about 22 grams of saturated fat per day.

It's also necessary to consider the cooking method, as it can affect the saturated fat content in the final dish:

  • Grilling or broiling filet mignon without adding extra fats may help keep the saturated fat content lower.
  • Conversely, cooking with butter or other saturated fats can increase the total saturated fat content of the meal.

While filet mignon isn't the leanest cut of beef, moderation is key. Including this cut in a diet occasionally, and preparing it with minimal added fats can help keep saturated fat intake in check. Balanced with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the occasional filet mignon can fit into a healthy eating plan.

Health experts often advise those with existing health issues like high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease to be particularly mindful of their saturated fat consumption. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can provide personalized dietary recommendations.

Studies indicate the importance of considering the whole dietary pattern rather than focusing on single nutrients or foods. The American Heart Association (AHA) emphasizes that an eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts is beneficial for heart health while recommending limiting red meat, sweets, and sugary beverages.

In summary, while filet mignon does contain saturated fats, it remains a high-quality protein source that may be enjoyed in moderation. By balancing this indulgent cut of beef with healthier cooking methods and a comprehensive nutrient-rich diet, individuals can maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle while occasionally enjoying this beloved delicacy.

Contribution to Cholesterol: Assessing the Impact

One of the concerns when incorporating meats such as filet mignon into the diet is the contribution to cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood, necessary for building cells but potentially harmful in excess. Dietary cholesterol comes mainly from animal foods, and filet mignon, being a cut of beef, is a contributing source.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 5 to 6 percent of your total daily calories from saturated fat, which can influence cholesterol levels. To understand the impact of filet mignon on cholesterol, it's crucial to look into its saturated fat content:

  • A typical 3-ounce serving of cooked filet mignon contains roughly 2.6 grams of saturated fat, which is about 13% of the American Heart Association's daily recommended maximum for saturated fats, assuming a 2,000-calorie diet.
  • This particular cut of beef, while leaner than some other cuts, still contributes to the daily intake of cholesterol and saturated fats.

Research also suggests that the type of fat found in lean red meats, when eaten in moderation, may not have as significant an impact on cholesterol levels as once thought. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that lean beef, including filet mignon, does not negatively impact cholesterol or triglyceride levels any more than other protein sources when consumed as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern.

It's important to note, however, that individual responses to dietary cholesterol can vary. Some people, known as "hyper-responders," may experience a significant increase in blood cholesterol when dietary cholesterol intake increases. Genetic factors, along with overall diet and lifestyle, influence this response.

For those concerned with cholesterol levels, here are methods to enjoy filet mignon while mitigating the impact:

  • Limit portion sizes: Stick to a recommended 3-ounce serving size to keep saturated fat intake within recommended limits.
  • Trimming fat: While filet mignon is a lean cut, trimming any visible fat can reduce saturated fat intake.
  • Balance with plant-based foods: Complement the meal with high-fiber vegetables and whole grains to help manage cholesterol levels.
  • Incorporate healthy cooking methods: Grilling or broiling filet mignon, as opposed to frying, can minimize additional fat intake.

Moderation is key in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Balancing filet mignon consumption with other lean protein sources, such as poultry, fish, and plant-based proteins, can be part of a heart-healthy diet. As always, consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian to personalize dietary choices based on individual health needs and goals.

Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Filet Mignon: Health Implications

When discerning the health implications of filet mignon, a premium cut of beef, one pivotal factor often emerges: the diet of the cattle, which partitions into grass-fed and grain-fed categories. Understanding the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed filet mignon is crucial, as it significantly affects the nutritional profile and potential health impacts of the meat we consume.

Nutritional Content Comparison:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Grass-fed beef is renowned for a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids compared to its grain-fed counterpart. These essential fats play a critical role in heart health and inflammation reduction. A study by the Journal of Animal Science has shown that grass-fed cattle have omega-3 fatty acid levels up to five times greater than grain-fed cattle.
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): This beneficial fat, associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including cancer and diabetes, is more abundant in grass-fed beef. Research published in Nutrition Journal asserts that the CLA content in grass-fed beef can be as much as 50% higher than in grain-fed beef.
  • Antioxidants and Vitamins: Grass-fed beef typically contains more antioxidants, such as vitamin E, and an increased level of beta-carotene. These nutrients are key to protecting the body against oxidative stress and boosting the immune system.

Potential Health Impacts:

  • The enhanced omega-3 fatty acid profile in grass-fed filet mignon supports cardiovascular health and may lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Increased levels of CLA in grass-fed beef could contribute to a lower risk of developing chronic illnesses and assist in body weight management.
  • The higher antioxidant content in grass-fed beef helps combat cellular damage and supports overall health.
  • Grass-fed beef tends to be leaner, reducing the intake of saturated fats which, when consumed in excess, can be a risk factor for heart disease.

It's also essential to note that the method of cattle farming has broader implications beyond individual health. Grass-fed cattle are often raised in more sustainable and humane conditions, which can impact the quality of meat and the ethics of consumption. Furthermore, grass-fed beef farming practices can potentially reduce the environmental burdens associated with large-scale, grain-fed cattle operations.

In conclusion, while both grass-fed and grain-fed filet mignon can be part of a balanced diet, the former presents a nutritionally superior profile with potentially favorable health implications. Nonetheless, consuming any type of red meat should be done in moderation, as part of a diverse and balanced diet, in alignment with dietary guidelines and recommendations.

Portion Control: Balancing Indulgence and Health

When it comes to savory indulgences like filet mignon, a premium cut of beef, portion control is crucial. This sub-section examines how carefully managing serving sizes can influence the health impacts of consuming filet mignon.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the nutritional profile of filet mignon. A standard 3-ounce (85 grams) cooked serving contains:

  • Approximately 215-240 calories
  • 14-16 grams of total fat
  • 5-6 grams of saturated fat
  • 22-24 grams of protein

These values can vary based on cooking methods and added ingredients like butter or oils. Filet mignon is also rich in essential micronutrients such as iron, B12, and zinc. Nonetheless, due to its fat content, especially the saturated fats, moderate consumption is key to maintaining cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to less than 7% of your total daily calories. For a 2,000 calorie diet, this means no more than 16 grams of saturated fat per day.

Given that a single serving of filet mignon can contain up to 6 grams of saturated fat, portion control becomes an essential practice. To balance indulgence and health:

  • Limit the serving size to a modest 3-ounce portion, especially if consuming other sources of saturated fat throughout the day.
  • Choose lean cooking methods like grilling or broiling, which can help reduce additional fat intake.
  • Trim visible fat from the edges to further decrease the total fat content.
  • Accompany your filet mignon with a variety of vegetables. By filling your plate with nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetables, you can enjoy your steak while also promoting satiety and nutrient balance.
  • Consider making filet mignon an occasional treat rather than a staple in your diet to maintain a heart-healthy regimen.

It's also worth noting that current research suggests the importance of the overall dietary pattern rather than focusing on individual food items. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that integrating lean cuts of red meat into a Mediterranean diet does not negatively impact cardiovascular disease risk factors.

In conclusion, while filet mignon can be part of a balanced diet, it's the portion size and frequency of consumption that play pivotal roles. By practicing portion control and mindful eating, steak lovers can enjoy filet mignon in moderation without compromising their health objectives.

Cooking Methods and Their Effects on Nutrition

When considering the health impact of consuming filet mignon, it's essential to understand that the cooking method can significantly influence its nutritional profile. The preparation of this tender cut of beef can either enhance its benefits or lead to potential health drawbacks. Let's explore how different cooking methods affect the nutrition of filet mignon.

Grilling and Broiling

Grilling and broiling filet mignon are popular methods that can add rich flavor while preserving its natural tenderness. These high-heat cooking methods can help reduce the fat content, as drippings fall away from the meat. However, it's important to be cautious with cooking temperatures. Exposing meat to very high temperatures or open flames can lead to the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are potential carcinogens. To minimize these risks, avoid charring the meat and cook at a moderate temperature.

  • Pros: Can reduce total fat content; adds a desirable charred flavor.
  • Cons: Potential formation of HCAs and PAHs at high temperatures.


Roasting filet mignon in the oven is a lower-temperature cooking method compared to grilling. Using a gentle, all-around heat allows the filet to cook evenly, reducing the risk of forming harmful compounds. Roasting can also be combined with herbs and spices to enhance the flavor without adding significant calories or sodium. To preserve the meat's moisture and nutrition, avoid overcooking.

  • Pros: Even cooking; lower risk of harmful compound formation.
  • Cons: Overcooking may reduce nutritional quality and moisture.


Pan-searing filet mignon creates a delicious crust while keeping the inside juicy and tender. Cooking in a pan can mean using additional fats like butter or oil, which can increase the dish's calorie and fat content. Opt for healthier oils such as olive oil or avocado oil, and ensure proper ventilation to reduce smoke and potential PAH formation.

  • Pros: Flavorful crust; keeps the interior tender and juicy.
  • Cons: Could increase calorie and fat content depending on used oils and butters.


The sous-vide method involves cooking the filet mignon in a precisely controlled water bath. This technique ensures the meat reaches a perfect temperature without the risk of overcooking. Since it involves low temperatures, there's a reduced chance of generating HCAs and PAHs. However, sous-vide requires cooking in a plastic bag, which may raise concerns about plastic contaminants, such as BPA. It's advisable to use sous-vide bags that are certified as BPA-free and suitable for high temperatures to mitigate these concerns.

  • Pros: Precise temperature control; reduced risk of overcooking and toxin formation.
  • Cons: Concerns about plastic contaminants from cooking bags.

Slow Cooking

Slow cooking filet mignon, although less common due to its naturally tender quality, can be an excellent way to infuse the meat with flavors from accompanying vegetables and broths. The low and slow method minimizes the likelihood of forming harmful compounds. Nonetheless, since filet mignon is a lean cut, slow cooking might not be the best choice as it could lead to a less desirable texture compared to other methods.

  • Pros: Minimizes harmful compound formation; can enhance flavor with additional ingredients.
  • Cons: Might not yield the best texture for a naturally tender cut.

In summary, each cooking method has its unique impact on the nutritional quality of filet mignon. Balancing flavor, texture, and health concerns by choosing appropriate cooking methods and temperatures can help enjoy this luxurious cut without compromising nutritional integrity. Where applicable, incorporating additional healthy ingredients and being mindful of added fats is equally important to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet.

Potential Benefits of Lean Beef in Moderation

Understanding the health implications of consuming lean beef such as filet mignon begins with recognizing its nutritional profile when enjoyed in moderation. Filet mignon, a cut from the smaller end of the tenderloin, is considered one of the leanest forms of beef, offering several essential nutrients. Below we break down the potential benefits associated with this premium cut.

  • Protein Content: Lean beef like filet mignon is a rich source of high-quality protein. Protein is vital for muscle maintenance, repair, and growth, making it particularly important for athletes, individuals engaged in regular physical activity, or those recovering from illness or surgery.
  • B Vitamins: Filet mignon is also a good source of B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, which plays a critical role in red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. The B vitamin complex also helps in metabolizing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
  • Iron: Consuming lean red meat provides heme iron, the form of iron most readily absorbed by the body. Adequate iron intake is essential for preventing anemia and supporting overall energy levels.
  • Zinc: Zinc found in beef like filet mignon supports immune function, DNA and protein production, and wound healing. It's also essential for children and adolescents during growth and development.
  • Selenium: An antioxidant trace mineral present in lean beef, selenium might help protect against oxidative stress and supports a healthy immune system.
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): Though in smaller amounts, filet mignon contains CLA, a type of fatty acid that some studies suggest may have cancer-fighting properties and could help reduce body fat. However, these potential benefits are still under investigation.

While these nutrients can contribute to a balanced diet, one must balance consumption with individual health concerns, such as cholesterol levels or heart disease risks. Furthermore, the manner in which filet mignon is prepared also matters. Grilled or broiled filet mignon without heavy sauces can retain the health benefits by minimizing the addition of unnecessary fats and calories.

It is worth noting that moderation is key when including filet mignon in your diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume 5.5 to 6 ounces of protein foods, including lean meats, per day as part of a balanced diet. Clinical nutritionists and dietitians also stress the importance of variety, suggesting that while lean beef can be part of a healthy diet, it should be rotated with other protein sources like fish, poultry, legumes, and nuts for optimal nutrient diversity.

To make informed food choices, individuals can refer to scientific research such as that from the American Heart Association, which provides guidelines on dietary patterns that can promote heart health, including the recommended intake of lean meats like filet mignon.

In conclusion, while no single food can define a healthy diet, filet mignon, as a lean source of valuable nutrients, can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a well-rounded nutritional plan. Balancing its intake with a variety of other proteins and considering one's health conditions and dietary needs is essential for integrating lean beef into a healthy lifestyle.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, filet mignon can benefit athletic performance due to its high-quality protein content, which aids muscle repair and growth. Additionally, the B vitamins, iron, and zinc it contains are essential nutrients that support energy metabolism and overall physical health, which can enhance athletic performance.

Frequent consumption of filet mignon, or any red meat high in saturated fats, can increase the risk of heart disease. Balancing its intake with other lean protein sources and maintaining a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is recommended for heart health. Occasional consumption as part of a varied diet is generally considered acceptable for most people.

The heme iron in filet mignon is highly bioavailable, meaning it's easily absorbed and used by your body, which is beneficial for preventing iron-deficiency anemia and maintaining healthy energy levels. Adequate iron intake is important for oxygen transport in the blood, and for the proper functioning of many enzymes.

For someone on a low-cholesterol diet, it's important to moderate the intake of filet mignon due to its saturated fat content, which can impact cholesterol levels. Choosing lean cuts, trimming visible fat, using healthy cooking methods like grilling or broiling, and pairing beef with fiber-rich foods can help manage cholesterol intake.

Ask a question about Filet Mignon and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible long-term side effects

  • higher cholesterol levels
  • increased risk of heart disease
  • potential formation of hcas and pahs
  • increased intake of saturated fats

Ingredients to be aware of

  • saturated fats
  • cholesterol
  • hcas and pahs
  • potential bpa from sous-vide bags


  • high-quality protein source
  • rich in b vitamins, especially b12
  • contains heme iron and zinc
  • provides selenium
  • contains cla
  • omega-3 fatty acids in grass-fed
  • higher antioxidants in grass-fed

Healthier alternatives

  • leaner cuts of meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • plant-based protein sources
  • grass-fed beef

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Primal Grass-Fed Beef

  • Organic, high quality
  • Pasture-raised beef
  • High in protein
  • Hormone-free
  • USDA Organic certified
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-23-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-23-2024

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