The Benefits and Nutrients of Eating Ribs

Ribs boost your intake of protein, zinc and vitamin B-5.
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Tender, falling-off-the-bone ribs make for a satisfying meal. At 210 calories per 3-ounce portion -- before sauce -- ribs might not be the most diet-conscious option for a main course, but they provide you with essential minerals, vitamins and protein. Keep your calorie intake in check by practicing healthy cooking techniques when preparing ribs.


A 3-ounce serving of ribs -- the yield from approximately one rib -- contains 23.5 grams of complete protein, which serves as a source of all the amino acids you need to obtain from food. Protein helps you maintain healthy tissues, including your bones and skin. A diet rich in protein, combined with regular exercise, also helps to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Ribs also contain fat -- approximately 12 grams of total fat, including 4.5 grams of saturated fat. Fat is a great source of energy for your cells, but you should eat ribs in moderation to avoid consuming too much saturated fat, which increases your risk of heart disease.

Selenium and Zinc

Adding ribs to your diet helps you obtain enough selenium and zinc. Both minerals activate enzymes required for good health. Selenium supports the function of antioxidant enzymes that protect your cells from free radicals, which are by-products of metabolism that damage cells and put you at risk for heart disease and cancer. Zinc-dependent enzymes support your metabolism, promote wound healing and aid in cell growth. A serving of ribs provides 47 percent of the daily zinc requirement for women and 34 percent of that for men, along with 75 percent of your daily recommended selenium intake, according to the Office of Dietary supplements.

Vitamins B-5 and Choline

Ribs support nervous system function because they contain vitamin B-5 and choline. Both of these nutrients help your body produce brain signaling molecules, called neurotransmitters, that relay messages between nerve cells. They also help you make acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for memory. Vitamin B-5 further aids in the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep cycle. Consuming 3 ounces of ribs boosts your vitamin B-5 intake by 1.2 milligrams -- 24 percent of your recommended daily intake -- and also provides 18 percent of the recommended daily choline intake for men and 23 percent of that for women, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Healthy Cooking Methods

Cooking ribs in barbecue sauce can add hundreds of calories and several grams of sugar to your meal. Instead, prepare ribs by braising them in a mixture of low-sodium chicken stock and red wine or in a blend of low-sodium soy sauce, fresh grated ginger and sake. Braising ribs along with mushrooms and hearty vegetables, such as carrots or parsnips, or grilling ribs alongside red and green bell peppers, chunks of sweet potato, asparagus spears and zucchini slices make them a healthful meal.

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