It isn’t very often that you hear the words “beef” and “heart-healthy diet” used in the same sentence. After all, beef is high in cholesterol, right? Well, according to researchers at Pennsylvania State University, lean beef could actually help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
You might already know that lean beef could be considered a healing food when it comes to boosting protein levels. Along with protein, lean organic beef is also an excellent source of vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc. But the danger, we have been told, is that beef (and other red meats) can raise your cholesterol levels and even up your risk for heart disease.
Now here’s some interesting health news: the Penn State researchers have conducted a trial and found that lean beef, along with a heart healthy diet, could actually contribute to lowering LDL cholesterol levels.
They studied the effect of cholesterol-lowering diets with varying amounts of lean beef. First up was the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), weighing in with 28 grams (g) of beef per day. Next on the list was the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD), which allowed 113 g of beef per day. The researchers also created a third diet by combining BOLD and additional protein that contained 153 g of beef per day. They compared these three diets with that of a healthy American diet.
Thirty-six hypercholesterolemic (high cholesterol) participants were recruited for the study. Each participant was randomly assigned to consume one of the four diets for a five-week period. The research team discovered that there was a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations after consumption of the DASH, BOLD, and BOLD plus protein meals when compared to the healthy American diet. The researchers also found that there was a greater decrease in “apolipoprotein B” after consumption of the BOLD plus diet than after consumption of the healthy American diet. Apolipoprotein is the primary protein found in LDL cholesterol.
The researchers concluded that low-saturated-fat, heart-healthy diets that contain lean beef show favorable effects on heart disease risk factors. This, they say, provides support for including lean beef in a heart-healthy diet.
To find out more about red meat and the ongoing debate about whether beef is good or bad for you, read the article A Little Red Meat Can Benefit Your Health.