Is Lamb Healthy? 5 Reasons to Add Lamb Meat to Your Diet

This article was originally published by our friend Dr. Axe


According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans consume around 0.7 pounds of lamb meat each year. (1) In other countries around the world, such as Greece, lamb is eaten much more regularly than in the United Sates. Maybe you have never given lamb a try or maybe you already love it, but either way, you may be wondering if lamb is a healthy meat choice.

So is lamb healthy? In moderation, lamb is an excellent source of protein and vital nutrients like iron, zinc, selenium and vitamin B12. (2) Is lamb red meat? Yes, lamb is a type of red meat and you probably know that red meat often gets a bad rep, but high-quality red meats like grass-fed beef and grass-fed lamb are excellent and truly healthy protein sources in moderation.

I’m about to answer a lot of common questions about lambs, including what is a lamb, the difference between lamb and sheep, how lamb can boost your health, and also some of the tastiest and healthiest lamb recipes around. So let’s find out just what lamb meat is all about.

Is Lamb Red Meat? Is Lamb Healthy? Lamb Meat Nutrition

Lamb does fall into the red meat category. What makes a meat a “red meat”? The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of the animal’s meat. Red meats have a high myoglobin content, which is a protein found in muscle that changes to red when it’s mixed with oxygen. As a red meat, lamb inherently contains more zinc and iron than non-red meats.

One ounce of regular lamb (not grass-fed) has the same number of calories as grass-fed beef but actually has more health-promoting omega 3 fatty acids. People also get worried about lamb’s fat content, but lamb actually can have less marbling of fat within the meat compared to beef. Most of lamb meat’s fat is around the outside and can easily be trimmed.

What is lamb? Lamb, yearling mutton (or hogget) and mutton all come from the same animal, which is the domestic sheep (Ovis aries). What sets these names or classifications apart is the sheep’s age. A baby lamb is a sheep that’s under one year old, and the meat that comes from a sheep at this young age is called lamb. So if someone asks, “Lamb vs. sheep, what’s the difference?” — now you know that lamb is a baby version of a sheep, the meat is called lamb and the animals at this age are also called lambs.

Lamb typically has a milder flavor compared to mutton. So what is mutton then? The common mutton definition is flesh of a mature sheep at least one year old. So mutton is the meat of a sheep that’s over the age of one. There’s also yearling mutton or hogget, which are usually between one and two years of age.

As for lamb meat, lamb nutrition is highly impressive. For example, just three ounces of lamb contains approximately the following: (3)

  • 160 calories
  • 23.5 grams protein
  • 6.6 grams fat (2.7 grams monounsaturated fat)
  • 2.7 micrograms vitamin B12 (45 percent DV)
  • 4.4 milligrams zinc (30 percent DV)
  • 4.9 milligrams niacin (24 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligram riboflavin (21 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligram vitamin B6 (20 percent DV)
  • 201 milligrams phosphorus (20 percent DV)
  • 9.2 micrograms selenium (13 percent DV)
  • 2.1 milligrams iron (12 percent DV)
  • 301 milligrams potassium (9 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (8 percent DV)
  • 0.8 milligram pantothenic acid (8 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram copper (7 percent DV)
  • 22.1 milligrams magnesium (6 percent DV)

5 Lamb Meat Health Benefits

1. Excellent Iron Source

As a red meat, lamb inherently has a lot more iron than other protein sources like chicken or fish. In addition, since lamb is an animal source of iron, it contains heme iron rather than the non-heme iron found in plants. Heme iron is the more absorbable form of iron so consuming red meat like lamb can help to improve and prevent iron deficiency and anemia symptoms.

How much more absorbable is the heme iron in lamb meat than non-heme plant iron? According to the National Institutes of Health, the bioavailability of iron is approximately 14 percent to 18 percent when someone consumes a diet that includes significant quantities of meat, seafood as well as vitamin C, which boosts iron absorption. For vegetarian eaters, the bioavailability of iron from their meat-free diets is significantly lower at only 5 percent to 12 percent. (4)

2. Nervous System Health Promoter

The National Institute of Health’s Dietary Office estimates that somewhere between 1.5 percent to 15 percent of people in the U.S. are deficient in vitamin B12. (5) Other studies, like one published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, indicate that this number might be even higher, with up to 39 percent of the population possibly suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency. (6) Lamb is an awesome source of B12 with just three ounces of lamb meat providing just under half of most people’s daily B12 requirements.

But that’s not all — lamb is also loaded with other essential B vitamins, including vitamin B6, niacin (vitamin B3), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Vitamin B12 as well as these other B vitamins help our nervous systems function as they should, and vitamin B12 ensures that the actual nerve cells are in a healthy state. (7) In case you’re not entirely sure why the nervous system is so important, this system is essentially the body’s electrical wiring that’s responsible for helping the entire body properly communicate and function.

3. Immune Booster

As you can see from the nutrition info in this article, lamb is also loaded with immune-boosting zinc. This nutrient can be found in cells throughout our bodies, and it’s absolutely essential to optimal immune health, along with wound healing, DNA and protein synthesis, as well as growth and development in children.

When it comes to immune health, if you don’t get enough zinc on a regular basis, your immune system is not going to function as it should, which means you’re more likely to have all kinds of health problems ranging from the common cold to more serious infections like pneumonia. (8) Consuming lamb meat and other zinc-rich foods can help keep your zinc levels in a healthy place and boost your overall immune function. In addition, zinc helps enable optimal senses of taste and smell (two very important things when you’re consuming some tasty lamb meat).

4. Rich Source of Healthy Fats like Omega-3 Fatty Acids and CLA

Lamb does contain fat, but a significant portion of that fat is anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, most pieces of lamb contain even more omega-3s than beef. Many people are aware of the many benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but not too many realize that lamb meat is a noteworthy source of these healthy fatty acids.

Grass-fed lamb meat also provides its consumers with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). (9) CLA is the name given to group of chemicals found in the fatty acid called linoleic acid. Why is it so awesome that lamb contains this group of chemicals? For starters, CLA has been shown to help aid fat loss, improve lean muscle mass and animal studies have even shown it may be a potential cancer fighter (especially breast cancer) in humans. (10, 11, 12)

5. Protein Powerhouse

As a type of meat and, more specifically, a type of red meat, lamb is loaded with vital protein. Just one three-ounce serving of lamb meat contains over 23 grams of protein. Protein intake is important to everyone, but the more active you are, the more important it is that you get enough protein in your diet. Protein does so much for the body, including providing it with slow-burning, sustainable fuel. It also helps your body build, repair and maintain muscle mass.

The protein found in lamb meat is made of essential amino acids, which can only be obtained through our diets. Animal protein sources like lamb meat are considered “complete proteins” because they contain all essential amino acids. Other non-meat protein sources, like vegetables, grains and nuts, typically do not contain at least one or more essential amino acids. (13)

How to Choose, Use and Cook Lamb Meat

Lamb meat is typically available fresh and/or frozen at your nearest grocery store. Many health stores carry lamb meat too, and much of the time it’s local lamb meat. As with any meat, always opt for local lamb meat when you can.

It’s also best to buy organic and grass-fed to get the highest-quality lamb meat possible. Just like grass-fed beef has a bumped-up array of nutrients and health benefits, so does grass-fed lamb meat. Grass-fed lamb is significantly higher in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. If your goal is to get a piece of lamb that’s lower in fat, opt for cuts from the leg or the loin. You can also trim all visible fat on any cut of lamb you buy.

There are a lot of ways to use and cook lamb meat. Many fans of lamb really love lamb loin chops, which are said to be one of the most tender cuts of lamb meat. In the culinary world, lamb loin chops are sometimes referred to as “the porterhouse steak of the lamb” to give you a beef comparison. (14) A Garlic Lamb Roast Recipe and other rack of lamb recipes are very popular, especially around holidays like Easter and Passover, or for other large gatherings. But if you want to cut down the price, time and effort, you can make Herb-Roasted Lamb Chops at home.

Some key USDA guidelines for buying and cooking lamb meat include:

  • Make lamb the last thing you put in your grocery cart, and put it in a plastic bag before putting it in your cart.
  • Refrigerate the lamb meat right when you get home at a temperature of 40 degrees F or less.
  • Rinsing raw lamb meat before cooking is not necessary.
  • Cook lamb patties and ground lamb mixtures to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160°F as measured by a food thermometer.
  • Cook all lamb organs and other parts (such as heart, kidney, liver and tongue) to 160°F.
  • Cook all raw lamb steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F.
  • For safety and quality, allow cooked lamb meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
  • Use cooked lamb within two hours or one hour if the air temperature is greater than 90°F.
  • Use ground lamb or stew meat within one to two days; lamb chops, roasts and steaks within three to five days; or freeze at 0°F or below.
  • Lamb kept frozen continuously is considered safe indefinitely.

Lamb Meat Recipes

In case you’re at a loss for a delicious lamb recipe, here are some of my favorite ways to consume lamb. These lamb recipes are loaded with flavor as well as nutrients:

Lamb Meat History and Interesting Facts

Lamb has been considered a religious symbol, specifically a symbol of sacrifice, since ancient times. When humans started domesticating animals, sheep were one of the first animals on the domestication list. To this day, lamb is very often the main course of a Easter meal or a Passover seder.

Why is lamb the meat of choice at these religious meals? Roast lamb was first eaten at Passover by people of the Jewish faith. The symbolic meaning of this lamb consumption goes back to the Bible and a story in Exodus. This story describes how people in Egypt were experiencing the death of firstborn sons among other calamities. This is when Jews put the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorposts in hopes that God would “pass over” them and they would avoid any tragedies.

When some Jewish people began switching over to Christianity, they brought the lamb-eating tradition to Easter. In addition, Christians commonly refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” so it makes sense that the food shows up at Easter meals when Christians are commemorating the resurrection of Jesus after his sacrifice. (15) That’s why it’s one the top 10 Bible foods that heal.

On a per capita basis, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Uruguay and Ireland are the top consumers of lamb and mutton. If you see “spring lamb” on a lamb meat label, it means that the lamb was slaughtered between March and October. Lamb meat is often paired with mint jelly, especially in British cuisine. French recipes tend to advise cooking lamb for less time.

Potential Side Effects and Caution

It’s possible to be allergic to any type of meat. If you experience a stuffy nose, a runny nose, feel nauseous or suddenly have a rash after consuming lamb, then it’s possible that you’re allergic to lamb. Discontinue consumption of lamb and seek medical attention if allergic reaction symptoms are severe. If you’re not sure if you’re allergic to lamb, food allergy testing is a mart idea. (16)

Lamb, like other red meat, does contain a significant amount of cholesterol so it should be enjoyed in moderation, especially if you have high cholesterol. Trimming lamb fat can help keep the cholesterol levels of lamb meat down.

Follow all USDA guidelines for purchasing, handling and cooking to ensure safety of the lamb meat you’re consuming.

Another concerning fact about lamb meat is the environment impact of consuming it. According to the Environmental Working Group, lamb has the highest emissions: (17)

“Lamb has the greatest impact, generating 39.3 kg (86.4 lbs) of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) for each kilo eaten – about 50 percent more than beef. While beef and lamb generate comparable amounts of methane and require similar quantities of feed, lamb generates more emissions per kilo in part because it produces less edible meat relative to the sheep’s live weight. Since just one percent of the meat consumed by Americans is lamb, however, it contributes very little to overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”

This is even more reason to consume lamb in moderation, and you should be aware how much you consume. You certainly don’t want to overdo it, both for your own health and the health of the environment.

Final Thoughts on Lamb Meat

So are you thinking about having some lamb chops for dinner tonight? In moderation, high-quality (organic and grass-fed) lamb meat is an awesome, healthy protein source that offers a wide range of concentrated and health-boosting nutrients.

For instance, lamb is an excellent iron source, nervous system health promoter, immune booster, rich source of healthy fats and protein powerhouse.

Lamb is often forgotten about or overlooked on restaurant menus and grocery lists, but after reading this article and trying out some of my lamb recipes, I think you just may want to add lamb to your rotation of healthy meat options.


Breakfast, blood sugar, & inflammation

Recent research has shown that Inflammation is responsible for 7 out of 10 Deaths in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be the same way for you.

In fact, in a fairly short amount of time, you could start to experience better sleep…less stomach issues…more energy and stamina…less muscle and joint pain…a drop in weight…lower stress levels…and much, much more!

Learn how to Prevent—Even Reverse—Most Major Diseases by “Turning Off” Inflammation!

==> Naturally Fight & Reverse Damaging Inflammatory Effects in Your Body!

Best stretch before bed (1 minute)

Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…

What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...

=> Best stretch before bed (takes 1-min)


Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody

Stop Snoring in 3 Minutes - Starting Tonight

...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!

Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?

Because you're about to learn easy throat exercises that cure (not just treated) your stubborn snoring – in 3 minutes – starting TONIGHT!

...even if straps, sprays and even torturing CPAP masks have failed you in the past.

Most people heal their snoring in just a few minutes per day using these powerful throat exercises. And they're so easy, you can do them, regardless of your age or physical shape.

Use them anytimeanywhere... even while stuck in traffic or watching TV.

Plus the results are permanent!

To learn more and test-drive the easy snoring and sleep apnea exercises for yourself, click here...

To a good night's sleep,
Rick + Lisa
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody

The #1 "bodyfat-eating" hormone...

weight loss solved

Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?

True. And it's completely unaffected by even the strictest diets... and most intense exercises.

However, there's good news- Calorie-resistant bodyfat can be now removed...

It's a little-known, calorie-burning hormone we all have... just waiting for the right spark to come alive. It's not thyroid, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, adiponectin, HGH or any other "fat loss" hormone you may know. Read more to find out precisely how to unleash its calorie-burning power:

==> How to Activate Your #1 "Bodyfat-Eating" Hormone...

To your health!

PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...

#1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat

I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.

If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.

Is it…

a) Abs

b) Chest

c) Glutes

d) Hip Flexors

Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!

How to Wipe Out Chronic Inflammation (Free Book)


In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.

See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.

Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.

inflammation book

Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a debilitating condition-and you"re not sure what the culprit is-now's the time to find out...while you can still do something about it!

Get the Free Inflammation Book

--> Grab your FREE copy of this groundbreaking soft cover book today (while supplies still last.)

Free Paleo / Keto Cookbook

Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold ­­ a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...

And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!

paleohack chart

The cookbook is called Paleo Eats, and it's filled with over 80 chef ­created, insanely tasty Paleo recipes ­­ which means they are free from gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.

Get your FREE copy of Paleo Eats Here. (Grab this today, because they only ordered a small batch of these cookbooks for this freebie promotion, and they will sell out FAST!)

>> Get The Free Cookbook


Sponsored Health Resources

In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.

NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!

1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…

--> "Red" Smoothie Helps Alabama Girl Shed 80lbs!

2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.

--> Get the 1 Day Cleanse (better than 7-day detoxes!)

3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.

--> #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat

4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!

--> Your Birth Date + Name - Free Report

5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!

--> The best way to get maximum effects of Turmeric

6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.

--> Why Some People LOOK Fat that Aren't

7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.

-->  Unlock Your Hip Flexors

Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.

Rick D.