Lamb 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Effects

Lamb is the meat of young domestic sheep (Ovis aries).

It’s a type of red meat — a term used for the meat of mammals that is richer in iron than chicken or fish.

The meat of young sheep — in their first year — is known as lamb, whereas mutton is a term used for the meat of adult sheep.

It’s most often eaten unprocessed, but cured (smoked and salted) lamb is also common in some parts of the world.

Being rich in high-quality protein and many vitamins and minerals, lamb can be an excellent component of a healthy diet.

Here’s everything you need to know about lamb.

Lamb Health Effects

Nutrition facts

Lamb is mainly composed of protein but also contains varying amounts of fat.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of roasted lamb provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 258
  • Water: 57%
  • Protein: 25.6 grams
  • Carbs: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Fat: 16.5 grams

Protein

Like other types of meat, lamb is primarily composed of protein.

The protein content of lean, cooked lamb is usually 25–26%.

Lamb meat is a high-quality protein source, providing all nine essential amino acids your body needs for growth and maintenance.

Therefore, eating lamb — or other types of meat — may be especially beneficial for bodybuilders, recovering athletes, and people post-surgery.

Eating meat promotes optimal nutrition whenever muscle tissue needs to be built up or repaired.

Fat

Lamb contains varying amounts of fat depending on how much of it has been trimmed away, as well as the animal’s diet, age, gender, and feed. The fat content is usually around 17–21%.

It is composed mainly of saturated and monounsaturated fats — in approximately equal amounts — but also has small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.

Thus, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of roasted lamb provides 6.9 grams of saturated, 7 grams of monounsaturated, and only 1.2 grams of polyunsaturated fat.

Lamb fat, or tallow, usually contains slightly higher levels of saturated fat than beef and pork (2).

Saturated fat has long been considered a risk factor for heart disease, but many studies have not found any link.

Lamb tallow also contains a family of trans fats known as ruminant trans fats.

Unlike trans fats found in processed food products, ruminant trans fats are believed to be beneficial for health.

The most common ruminant trans fat is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

Compared to other ruminant meats — such as beef and veal — lamb contains the highest amounts of CLA (9).

CLA has been linked to various health benefits, including reduced body fat mass, but large amounts in supplements may have adverse effects on metabolic health.

SUMMARY

High-quality protein is the main nutritional component of lamb. It also contains varying amounts of fat — mostly saturated fat but also small amounts of CLA, which has several health benefits.