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Rabbit vs. Beef: Which is the Healthier Meat?

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on July 17, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan
Rabbit Meat
vs
Beef broiled

Summary

Both rabbit meat and beef are high in protein and contain essential amino acids, which are important for normal metabolism. Unlike beef, rabbit meat has low-fat characteristics. Beef and rabbit meat contain no carbohydrates.

Rabbit meat contains 1.8 times more iron than beef.

Rabbit meat has more water-soluble vitamins, such as B3 and B12. It is important to note that beef is also high in vitamin B12 and is well-known for being a good source of vitamin B12.

Overall, rabbit meat is a healthier choice for cardiovascular health, metabolic health, and cancer. However, beef is a more balanced meat.

Introduction

Rabbit meat consumption is not as widespread as other sorts of meat consumption. Rabbit meat is frequently referred to as game meat, obtained during a hunt. However, they are usually grown as livestock on farms nowadays. Farm-bred rabbits are raised in the best way possible for consumption in terms of nutritional content. They are given highly nutritious meals and are kept away from dangers such as predators. They are less distressed, and their flesh is more tender than that of wild varieties.

Rabbit meat is categorized as poultry in terms of classification.

Beef is the meat that comes from cattle. Cattle that provide meat and are domesticated became part of humans' domestic animal life cycle nearly 8500 years ago.

Beef is considered the third-most consumed meat globally after pork and chicken. There are different cuts of beef and different types of beef available on the market. We will discuss these general differences.

This article will compare rabbit meat to beef meat in terms of general differences, nutritional content, weight loss and diet, and health implications.

Taste

Beef and rabbit meat have different tastes and textures; even when it comes to beef, different cuts of the same beef might taste different.

Culinary world usage

Beef has a wider range of usage compared to rabbit meat. Beef can have different cuts for different usages. There are tender cuts used for steak and grilling, and there are cuts used for grounding the beef meat for burgers and other foods. 

Price

Beef meat is cheaper than rabbit meat. Overall it is also more available in markets than rabbit meat.

Classification

Beef is classified as red meat, and rabbit meat is classified as white meat. These classifications have importance in their effects on health which we are discussed in further sections.

Types

Unlike rabbit meat, beef has a wide range of types: wagyu, Angus, limousine, brahman, etc. The most famous is the Angus. In addition to that, there are primal, subprimal, and retail cuts. We categorize the different cuts with different usages, tastes, and textures, such as chunk, shank, brisket, ribs, and others. Each of these is different, even in its nutritional content.

A rabbit that is less than 12 weeks old weighs never less than 1 ½ pounds and never more than 3 ½ pounds is referred to as a fryer or young rabbit. The flesh is beautiful, pearly pink in hue, delicate, and finely grained. These rabbits can be prepared similarly to young poultry.

A mature rabbit, often known as a roaster or mature rabbit, can typically weigh over 4 pounds and be older than 8 months. The color of the fat may be more creamy than that of a young rabbit or fryer. Larger rabbits may have tougher meat, so braising or stewing are the preferred cooking techniques.

Nutrition

The nutritional values are described for 100g servings of wild, cooked, stewed rabbit meat and 85% lean beef (15% fat), patty, cooked, and broiled ground.

Both rabbit meat and beef have the same average serving size of 85g.

Calories

Beef is higher in calories compared to rabbit meat. Beef contains approximately 1.5 times more calories (250 kcal and 173 kcal, respectively).

Proteins

Both rabbit meat and beef are high in protein and contain essential amino acids such as methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, threonine, leucine, lysine, valine, and histidine, which are not synthesized in our bodies but play important roles in many processes. It should be noted that rabbit meat has 1.3 times the protein content of beef.

Fats

One of the essential characteristics of rabbit meat is its low-fat content. Beef contains almost five times more total fat than rabbit meat.

Beef contains 5.6 times more saturated fat than rabbit meat. In contrast to rabbit meat, beef contains more monounsaturated fat and omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. It should be mentioned that beef does not contain a significant concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Beef is included in the third group in terms of the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids after fish, vegetable fats, pork, and chicken meat.

Rabbit meat contains more cholesterol compared to beef. Unlike rabbit meat, beef contains 0.572g of trans fat per 100g.

Carbs

Beef and rabbit meat contain no carbohydrates, and their calories are composed of fats and proteins. This is a significant feature of certain diets. Therefore, the glycemic index of both of these foods is 0.

Minerals

Rabbit meat is richer in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and copper than beef. Rabbit meat contains 1.8 times more iron than beef. Unlike rabbit meat, beef contains more sodium, zinc, manganese, and selenium.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Iron +86.5%
Contains more Magnesium +47.6%
Contains more Phosphorus +21.2%
Contains less Sodium -37.5%
Contains more Copper +107.1%
Contains more Zinc +165.1%
Contains more Selenium +41.4%
Equal in Calcium - 18
Equal in Potassium - 318
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 6% 182% 23% 103% 31% 6% 65% 59% 0% 83%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 6% 98% 15% 85% 29% 10% 173% 29% 2% 118%
Contains more Iron +86.5%
Contains more Magnesium +47.6%
Contains more Phosphorus +21.2%
Contains less Sodium -37.5%
Contains more Copper +107.1%
Contains more Zinc +165.1%
Contains more Selenium +41.4%
Equal in Calcium - 18
Equal in Potassium - 318

Vitamin

Rabbit meat has more water-soluble vitamins, such as B3 and B12. Although it is important to note that beef is high in vitamin B12, it is also well-known for being a good source of vitamin B12. However, when it comes to vitamin B12 content, rabbit meat is higher. Beef contains more vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, and B9 than rabbit meat. Both of these have fat-soluble vitamins. Beef is higher in vitamins A and D than rabbit meat, which is higher in vitamins E and K.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin E +241.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +19%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +146.6%
Contains more Choline +57.6%
Contains more Vitamin K +25%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +130%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +151.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +12.4%
Contains more Folate +12.5%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 0% 9% 0% 0% 5% 17% 120% 0% 79% 6% 814% 71% 4%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 1% 3% 0% 0% 12% 41% 101% 40% 89% 7% 331% 45% 3%
Contains more Vitamin E +241.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +19%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +146.6%
Contains more Choline +57.6%
Contains more Vitamin K +25%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +130%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +151.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +12.4%
Contains more Folate +12.5%

Diet and weight loss

Rabbit meat and beef can be adjusted to a healthy, balanced diet. However, sometimes beef can be turned into fatty burgers with high carbohydrates from condiments and high-fat amounts. In addition to that, the added salts should be taken into consideration.

Keto

On the keto diet, rabbit and beef are ideal. They have no carbohydrates and a glycemic index of 0. They contain a lot of protein. However, because rabbit meat is high in protein and low in fat, it's important to pair it with beneficial fats on the keto diet.

The Mediterranean diet

This diet promotes the use of fruits and vegetables in your diet. The Mediterranean diet profile emphasizes whole grains, beneficial fats (fish, olive oil, nuts, etc.), vegetables, fruits, fish, and very low non-fish meat consumption. From this, it follows that beef and rabbit meat may be consumed in moderation during this diet.

Paleo

A paleo diet often consists of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds—items that could have been obtained through hunting and gathering in the past, so both of these are allowed during this diet.

Intermittent fasting 

It’s more like an eating pattern than a diet because it controls when you eat rather than what you eat. From this, it follows that beef and rabbit meat may be consumed while following this diet.

Vegan

Rabbit meat or beef cannot be consumed by vegans.

It should be noted that high-protein diets may be linked to a range of metabolic issues that could be harmful to kidney function (1).

Bodybuilding

Both of these foods are ideal for bodybuilding. Beef is more accessible, cheaper, and balanced compared to rabbit meat. Rabbit meat is also a good option for bodybuilding and is commonly used to lose fat and achieve a leaner physique; however, relying on rabbit meat as a protein source for an extended period is not recommended because it contains low fat and would cause more harm than good if consumed in excess.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Beef and rabbit meat contain some peptides that may inhibit angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE). It’s one of the mechanisms that may play an essential role in reducing arterial blood pressure. This effect is also characteristic of some antihypertensive drugs like Captopril, Lisinopril, Perindopril, etc. (2.3.4).

Unlike white meat (in this context, rabbit meat), red meat (in this context, beef) consumption was associated with central obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, and metabolic syndrome, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). It should be noted that the saturated fatty acid level of red meat may have played a role in this association (5.6.7).

Besides that, there is a link between TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) levels found in red meat and incident CVD risks (such as myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure). It should be highlighted that, despite the numerous animal model studies showing the role of TMAO in increasing CVD risk, the direct contribution of TMAO to CVD pathogenesis in humans remains unknown, and the impact of dietary treatments on TMAO has not been thoroughly studied (8).

Consuming processed meat (hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, biltong (beef jerky), canned meat, and dishes and sauces including meat are all examples of processed meat) may increase the risk of CVD mortality more than eating unprocessed meat, according to this study (9). Beyond increasing blood pressure, processed meat with high salt content, preservatives, and dietary advanced glycation end-products has negative cardiometabolic consequences (6).

In conclusion, white meat consumption may be the 'healthy' alternative to red and processed meat consumption; nevertheless, more research into the specific role of white meat consumption in CVD is needed (9).

Diabetes mellitus

As mentioned above, rabbit and beef contain 0g of carbohydrates and a glycemic index of 0. As a result, they can be used as part of diets tailored to diabetes patients in order to regulate blood glucose and insulin levels. Furthermore, they lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (10).

On the other hand, processed meats may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, so a diabetic diet should contain red meat in moderation (unprocessed and lean, cooked at a moderate temperature). As for rabbit meat, in this context, its consumption is preferable to beef (6.11).

Kidney Health

For people who have chronic kidney disease (CKD), red meat is a valuable source of vitamins and important amino acids. However, high red meat consumption may increase the risk of CKD progression, so it should be limited in CKD patients (12).

It should be noted that there is also a link between white meat consumption and the risk of incident CKD, but this is lower compared to beef consumption (13).

Anemia

An iron deficiency may cause iron-deficiency anemia. It is the most common dietary deficit in the world, causing acute weariness and lightheadedness. It affects people of all ages, with children, pregnant or menstruating women, and people on kidney dialysis being the most vulnerable.

Rabbit meat is a good source of iron; as previously stated, rabbit meat has more iron than beef (4.85mg vs. 2.6mg per 100g). It should be mentioned that the RDA for iron for adults aged 19 to 50 years is 8 mg per day for men, 18 mg for women, 27 mg for pregnancy, and 9 mg for lactation (14).

Another type of anemia is vitamin B12-deficiency anemia, which is common in vegans. Diet can also contribute to a vitamin B12 deficiency in people with bulimia or anorexia nervosa. The common symptoms include weakness and fatigue, light-headedness and dizziness, palpitations and rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, a sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance, nausea or poor appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, etc. (15).

 As mentioned above, both of these products are good sources of vitamin B12.

Cancer

The risk of stomach cancer is strongly correlated with higher consumption of red and processed meat. On the other hand, eating white meat appears to be negatively associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer. To precisely uncover these relationships, additional research in well-designed cohort studies or clinical trials is required (16). 

According to studies, there is a link between colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and red meat consumption (17).

Meat allergy

With a prevalence of 1.5 to 6.5% among children with atopic dermatitis or food allergies or intolerances, beef allergy is the most often reported allergy. However, in children allergic to cow's milk, the prevalence of beef allergies might reach 20%. There have also been reports of allergic reactions to rabbit meat. 

It should be noted that for people with those kinds of allergies who should not consume animal meat, pure (natural, without medications, hormones, growth factors, or antibiotics) rabbit is occasionally the only acceptable option.

The most common method of managing food allergies is to avoid the offending meat(s). If the patient had an allergic reaction to raw meat, it might be useful to determine if the meat is tolerated in a well-cooked form, as the patient may be able to keep the meal in his or her diet in cooked form. Patients with immunoglobulin E-mediated meat allergies should be given an epinephrine autoinjector and instructed on how to utilize it (18).

Gout

Consumption of rabbit meat and beef should be reduced for people who suffer from Gout arthritis. This is mainly due to their purine-rich nutritional profile (19).

Tularemia

Tularemia is a zoonotic infection caused by bacteria (Francisella tularensis) and is usually connected with rabbit hunters and eaters of rabbit meat. Infection can be caused to contact with contaminated tissue during the skinning of rabbits or by eating infected meat. Transmission can also occur due to a tick bite on the animal's skin (20).

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: July 17, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan

Infographic

Rabbit Meat vs Beef broiled infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +27.3%
Contains more Other +208.8%
Contains more Fats +339%
Equal in Water - 57.98
33% 4% 61% 2%
Protein: 33.02 g
Fats: 3.51 g
Carbs: 0 g
Water: 61.37 g
Other: 2.1 g
26% 15% 58%
Protein: 25.93 g
Fats: 15.41 g
Carbs: 0 g
Water: 57.98 g
Other: 0.68 g
Contains more Protein +27.3%
Contains more Other +208.8%
Contains more Fats +339%
Equal in Water - 57.98

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -82.2%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +40.5%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +601.9%
39% 35% 25%
Saturated Fat: 1.05 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.95 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.68 g
45% 51% 4%
Saturated Fat: 5.895 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 6.668 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.484 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -82.2%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +40.5%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +601.9%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Rabbit Meat Beef broiled
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Sugar Equal
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal
Lower in price Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Rabbit Meat Beef broiled Opinion
Protein 33.02g 25.93g Rabbit Meat
Fats 3.51g 15.41g Beef broiled
Calories 173kcal 250kcal Beef broiled
Calcium 18mg 18mg
Iron 4.85mg 2.6mg Rabbit Meat
Magnesium 31mg 21mg Rabbit Meat
Phosphorus 240mg 198mg Rabbit Meat
Potassium 343mg 318mg Rabbit Meat
Sodium 45mg 72mg Rabbit Meat
Zinc 2.38mg 6.31mg Beef broiled
Copper 0.176mg 0.085mg Rabbit Meat
Manganese 0.012mg Beef broiled
Selenium 15.2µg 21.5µg Beef broiled
Vitamin A 0IU 9IU Beef broiled
Vitamin A RAE 0µg 3µg Beef broiled
Vitamin E 0.41mg 0.12mg Rabbit Meat
Vitamin D 0IU 2IU Beef broiled
Vitamin B1 0.02mg 0.046mg Beef broiled
Vitamin B2 0.07mg 0.176mg Beef broiled
Vitamin B3 6.4mg 5.378mg Rabbit Meat
Vitamin B5 0.658mg Beef broiled
Vitamin B6 0.34mg 0.382mg Beef broiled
Folate 8µg 9µg Beef broiled
Vitamin B12 6.51µg 2.64µg Rabbit Meat
Choline 129.9mg 82.4mg Rabbit Meat
Vitamin K 1.5µg 1.2µg Rabbit Meat
Tryptophan 0.436mg 0.094mg Rabbit Meat
Threonine 1.477mg 0.72mg Rabbit Meat
Isoleucine 1.567mg 0.822mg Rabbit Meat
Leucine 2.573mg 1.45mg Rabbit Meat
Lysine 2.891mg 1.54mg Rabbit Meat
Methionine 0.826mg 0.478mg Rabbit Meat
Phenylalanine 1.355mg 0.725mg Rabbit Meat
Valine 1.678mg 0.914mg Rabbit Meat
Histidine 0.926mg 0.604mg Rabbit Meat
Cholesterol 123mg 88mg Beef broiled
Trans Fat 0.572g Rabbit Meat
Saturated Fat 1.05g 5.895g Rabbit Meat
Omega-3 - DHA 0g 0.001g Beef broiled
Omega-3 - EPA 0g 0.003g Beef broiled
Omega-3 - DPA 0g 0.016g Beef broiled
Monounsaturated Fat 0.95g 6.668g Beef broiled
Polyunsaturated fat 0.68g 0.484g Rabbit Meat
Omega-6 - Gamma-linoleic acid 0.012g Beef broiled
Omega-3 - ALA 0.044g Beef broiled

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Rabbit Meat Beef broiled
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet Equal
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
86%
Rabbit Meat
51%
Beef broiled
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
55%
Rabbit Meat
56%
Beef broiled

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Rabbit Meat
Rabbit Meat contains less Sodium (difference - 27mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Rabbit Meat
Rabbit Meat is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 4.845g)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Beef broiled
Beef broiled is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 35mg)
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar (0 g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Rabbit Meat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174348/nutrients
  2. Beef broiled - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174032/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.