Is Meatloaf Healthy? The Surprising Truth About This American Classic

Is Meatloaf Healthy

Meatloaf remains as popular now as it did in the 1970s when it was a cornerstone of home cooking. Americans love meatloaf so much that they’ll eat almost 5 million pounds of it this year alone. The dish is a perfect example of American home cooking at its finest: simple, wholesome ingredients combined into an affordable, filling supper. There are many variations on meatloaf — everything from Italian to Texan and even vegetarian. But does that mean this classic favorite is healthy? After all, there are usually lots of fat and carbs from breadcrumbs and onion mixed in with ground beef. So what exactly makes a meatloaf healthy or unhealthy? Let’s take a closer look.

Is Meatloaf Healthy?

It depends on the recipe. A traditional meatloaf made with ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, and ketchup is not particularly healthy, as it is high in fat and calories. However, there are many healthier recipes for meatloaf that include lean protein sources such as ground turkey or chicken, whole grain bread crumbs, and vegetables.

Is Meatloaf A Healthy Dish? 

  1. Meatloaf is a healthy dish that can be served as a main dish or a side dish.
  2. The ingredients in meatloaf are all healthy and nutritious, including lean ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, and onion.
  3. Ground beef is a good source of protein, vitamins B1 and B6, iron, and zinc, which are essential for the body to function properly.
  4. Breadcrumbs are made from wheat flour which is high in carbs and low in nutrition compared to other grains like corn or rice. Breadcrumbs are usually high in fat too so they should be used sparingly if you want to keep the meatloaf healthy (1/4 cup = 30g fat). 
  5. Onions contain a compound called quercetin that has powerful antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals (2). It also helps lower blood pressure, according to research published in Phytomedicine. Onions are also a good source of vitamins C and A, and they contain a number of other beneficial compounds.
  6. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, vitamins B1 and B6, iron, zinc, and choline (3). They also contain a number of other important nutrients including selenium, potassium, and biotin (4). Eggs are also inexpensive and filling so you can use them to make meatloaf without worrying about the cost. 

Is There A Healthier Way To Make Meatloaf?

1. Use Leaner Cuts Of Meat.

If you’re making a traditional meatloaf, use ground beef instead of ground pork. Ground turkey is also a good alternative. If you want to make a vegetarian version, try using vegetarian ground beef or even tofu. The key is to use leaner cuts of meat, as these will yield less fat and calories in the end product.

2. Use Healthier Breadcrumbs For The Topping.

The breadcrumb topping that tops most meatloaves is made from white flour and refined sugar, which can make the dish unhealthy if used too much not only because of its high carb content but also because it can lead to obesity. But if you’re looking for a healthier way to top your meatloaf, try using whole-grain breadcrumbs instead. These will be more nutritious than their white counterparts and won’t spike your blood sugar levels as white bread does.

3. Use More Veggies In The Recipe.

Instead of using white breadcrumbs for topping your meatloaf, try using a combination of chopped onion and celery. This will add more vitamins and minerals to the dish, making it just as nutritious as a meatloaf you would make with traditional breadcrumbs.

4. Use Leaner Ground Beef.

Ground beef is usually a good source of protein, but not always leaner cuts are available. If you’re looking for a healthier way to make your meatloaf, opt for ground turkey or even ground pork instead. Ground beef isn’t necessarily unhealthy per se, but if you’re looking for a healthier alternative then go with the other options mentioned above. In addition to being leaner than ground pork or turkey, they’ll also contain less fat and calories than regular ground beef.

What Are The Health Risks Of Meatloaf?

1. Meatloaf Is Loaded With Sodium.

Meatloaf is about twice as high in sodium as a hamburger and nearly five times higher than a chicken breast. The sodium in meatloaf comes from the salt and seasoning that’s added to the dish, whether it’s seasoned with salt or pepper. That said, it may be hard to avoid sodium when buying meat at the grocery store. Sodium can also be found in other foods such as canned soup, canned vegetables, and even some breakfast cereals.

2. Meatloaf May Be High In Cholesterol.

Many recipes call for lean ground beef, but there are plenty of other ingredients that can add unnecessary fat to the dish: milk, eggs, cheese, and flour are just a few examples of things you might not have expected to find in a healthy meatloaf recipe. Ground beef can also contain fat-containing substances called lipoproteins that could raise your cholesterol levels if you eat too much.

3. Meatloaf May Not Be Good For You If It’s Made With Breadcrumbs Or Other Flour-Based Additions.

Meatloaf is usually made with lean ground beef and breadcrumbs (made from white flour) mixed into the meat mixture. Breadcrumbs are another source of carbohydrates and many pieces of bread are high in carbs, so it’s important to read labels carefully when buying bread products to avoid added sugars and unhealthy fats. Other ingredients that can also add fat include onions and eggs, which will raise your cholesterol levels if you eat too much of them in a meatloaf recipe.

4.  Meatloaf Is High In Calories.

Meatloaf is a hearty dish that’s often made with lots of ingredients, so it’s easy to overeat when you slow down and take the time to savor each bite. Meatloaf can be high in calories, but you can control your portion sizes by planning ahead and finding ways to make the dish less caloric. Try adding fresh vegetables or a side salad or soup to round out your meal.

5. Meatloaf May Contain Preservatives And Artificial Flavors.

Some meatloaf recipes call for spices such as cumin, paprika, or oregano that may contain preservatives called nitrates or nitrites additives that some people are allergic to so it’s important to read labels carefully when buying spices and meats at the grocery store. Tuna fish may also contain artificial flavors, which could be bad news for your health if you eat too much tuna fish on a regular.


The key to making a healthy meatloaf is using as much meat as possible and minimizing the amount of fat and non-meat ingredients. You can also make it healthier with beans or vegetables. If you want to make a healthier meatloaf, you’ll want to start with ground beef. You can go with fatty ground beef or you can swap it for ground turkey or even shredded chicken breast. You can also use oats to replace the breadcrumbs and add vegetables like mushrooms.

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