From the Southern United States to Mũi Né in Vietnam, this white meat has been used in a multitude of comforting meals. Outside of the South and in other areas of the world, however, many may not know that alligator meat—or gator meat—is nutrient-rich, succulent meat that has been a Southern and coastal fishing area favorite for many years.
It was in the mid-1800s that the first notation of alligator meat was made and used in some Southern United States regional cuisines, introduced in such famous dishes as gumbo. Today, gator meat can be used in all manner of creative and delicious meals with fried, breaded gator meat as being one of the most popular.
Gator meat can be used in many comforting recipes like alligator and crawfish Etoufee Po-boys, fried gator tail with Creole Remoulade Sauce, lime, and ginger gator skewers, gator tacos, wontons and so much more. The list of what you can make with gator meat is nearly endless.
But Did You Know the Benefits of Gator Meat?
In its most common form, you will find gator meat sold frozen. You can find many cuts of gator meat, such as legs, bodies, and tails, but the most beloved and, many who eat it insist, the best meat is from the alligator's tail. The tail is some of the most tender, bright-white, and juicy meat while other parts of the alligator will have tougher textures and darker tones. Gator meat texture is often compared to veal with the flavor familiar to a chicken, rabbit, or even fish. Many who eat this meat experience a different flavor with every bite.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said that one serving (3.5 ounces) of gator meat contains just 232 calories with 46 grams of protein. Compare this with a lean cut of beef, for instance, averaging around 291 calories and about 46 grams of protein.
Benefits of Gator Meat
If you have ever found yourself a bit worn out from chicken, fish, or pork for your protein-rich dietary needs, you may want to consider gator meat. Yes, you read that correctly! High-quality protein and lean in fat, alligator meat is a keto-friendly, protein-packed meat low in saturated fats. The consumption of gator meat in the U.S. is quite common and is often consumed at a rate comparable to beef, with lower health risks.
Gator meat is rather unique when you compare it to other popular protein meat sources such as chicken, beef, or fish. It is categorized as game meat, as it is naturally lean in fat and packed with protein. In terms of taste and saturated fat amount, gator meat shares properties with chicken as well as fish.
Whether the meat is from the tail or another cut, the meat retains twice as much protein as a serving of beef of the same size.
Free From Cholesterol
It's true that alligator meat still has some saturated fats in it, which is perfectly fine due to how little there is—all animals have saturated fats in their meats. The difference lies in the cholesterol. Alligator meat shockingly has no cholesterol.
Low Saturated Fat
One of the biggest issues with many red types of meat is the shocking amounts of saturated fats. When heart health, stroke and heart disease is a factor in your diet where you must avoid saturated fats (which are linked to raised cholesterol levels) gator meat is a great alternative.
The saturated fat amount in alligator meat is 4 grams per 3.5 ounces of gator meat serving, compared to 14 grams in similar servings of beef, which is much healthier to consume as a daily source of protein.
Rich in Vitamins
As well as how healthy, rich in protein and low saturated fats alligator meat is, it is also full of vitamins.
Potassium – A type of electrolyte, potassium helps your nerves to function as well as your muscles to contract. It also helps your heartbeat stay regular, move nutrients into cells, and waste products out of cells. A diet rich in potassium helps to offset some of the sodium's harmful effects on blood pressure.
Iron – This is an essential element for blood production, about 70 percent of your body's iron is found in the red blood cells of your blood, called hemoglobin, and in muscle cells called myoglobin.
B-12 – Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy and helps the body make DNA, the genetic material found in call cells. It also works to prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people feel tired and weak.
What Else You Need to Know Before Buying Gator Meat
If you've never eaten gator meat but are interested in trying, there are a few things to be cautious about before taking the plunge. First, there is a large difference between a wild alligator and a farmed alligator. Farmed alligator meat is what you will find on grocery store shelves or in restaurants.
Wild alligator meat has been found to have traces of mercury in various degrees. Meaning if you are considering cooking and eating the meat of a wild-caught alligator, children under the age of six and women who are pregnant should avoid eating wild-caught completely, and a healthy adult should only eat wild-caught once a month.
Farmed gator meat does not need the same caution as wild-caught, as alligator farming has to follow government and state regulations, with freshwater and feed is regulated. (Farm alligators are not living in waters that may be polluted, consuming high-mercury content fish, nor surrounded by plant material that absorbs mercury, for example).
At Wholey, we only sell farm-raised alligator meat, and the most tender and succulent cuts are available to order. These premium cuts of gator meat can be used to create a variety of dishes such as gator nuggets, chili, gumbo, sausage, and many other dishes you could imagine.