Fat accounts for up to 5 percent of muscle tissue. Of course,more fat may surround the muscles. A beef carcass can be as much as 30 percent fat.

Because of health and dietary concerns, many meat animals are being bred and raised with a lower fat content than in past years. Nevertheless, a certain amount of fat is desirable for three reasons:

1. Juiciness.

Marbling is fat that is deposited within the muscle tissue.The juiciness we enjoy in well-marbled beef is due more to fat than to moisture.

Surface fat protects the meat—especially roasts—from drying out during cooking as well as in storage. Adding surface fats where they are lacking is called barding.

2. Tenderness.

Marbling separates muscle fibers, making them easier to chew.

3. Flavor.

Fat is perhaps the main source of flavor in meat. A well-marbled Prime (top grade) steak tastes "beefier" than the same cut of a lower grade.

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