When it comes to eating meat, bison — or buffalo in layman's terms — may best beef. Packing significantly less fat per gram than other animal proteins, the average cut of bison contains more iron, protein, and minerals than that of conventional beef.

“There are more saturated fats in the meat of feedlotted animals than in that of grass-fed ones,” says Kevin Weiland, MD, author of The Dakota Diet (Basic Health, 2007). “The fat produces a marbling effect, but other healthy nutrients diminish. Grass-fed bison contains higher levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and antioxidants such as vitamin E.”

Eating bison is also eco-friendly. Like grass-fed cattle (view recipes), bison graze in open pastures rather than being confined to small plots of land and are fed a combination of grain and hay. This is good for them and the environment because natural foraging stimulates new grass growth. Grass diets also make bison's meat milder and richer. Plus, while farm-raised livestock need daily antibiotics to stay healthy, bison require antibiotics only in cases of medical emergency.

To distinguish buffalo's boons, the National Bison Association has developed a new USDA-audited labeling system, which indicates that the animal wasn't fed growth hormones, unnecessary antibiotics, or animal byproducts, and can be traced back to its farm of origin. Watch for the Certified American Buffalo seal.

7.4 Grams of fat in one 3.5-ounce serving of skinless chicken breast
2.4 Grams of fat in one 3.5-ounce serving of bison
69 Percent more iron in bison than beef
25 Percent more protein in bison than beef