Despite commonly held beliefs, beef can play a role in lowering bad cholesterol, according to a new study conducted at Pennsylvania State College.
The study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that diets including daily consumption of lean beef “are as effective in lowering total and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol as the ‘gold standard’ of heart-healthy diets” known as DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
“This research sheds new light on evidence supporting lean beef’s role in a heart-healthy diet. Study participants ate lean beef every day and still met targets for saturated fat intake,” nutrition professor Penny Kris-Etherton, the study’s chief investigator, said in a statement about the findings. “This study shows that nutrient-rich lean beef can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet that improves risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
The study focused on 36 participants ranging in ages from 30 to 65 with moderately elevated cholesterol. All consumed a total of four diets for five weeks each, with the optimal beef diets consisting of 4 to 5.4 ounce daily servings. At the end of the study, the participants showed a 10 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol on the beef diets.
The researchers said the improvements in heart health risk factors seen from optimal beef diets “were as effective” as those from the DASH and other diets, some which emphasize plant proteins.
The study’s conclusions were welcomed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which issued a statement saying, “Americans now have more scientific evidence for including lean beef in a heart-healthy diet.”