People likely to develop a common form of kidney stones have often been told to remove beef from their diets. A recently released study from Washington State University, however, claims no relation between a beef diet and the health problem.

Published in the March 2001 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the study compared diets with animal protein (beef) sources with plant protein sources (legumes, seeds, nuts and grains) at the same amount of total protein in people with a history of calcium kidney stones.

"It's been widely touted in the medical literature that animal protein is bad for people with kidney stones because it increased urinary calcium more than plant protein. Animal protein contains about 10 percent more sulfur-containing amino acids which can slightly increase urinary calcium," said Dr. Linda Massey, one of the researchers. "However, only plant foods contain oxalate, the other half of the salt that forms kidney stones. This trade-off led me to the study because, overall, the diets with animal protein should be no different, or worse, than diets based on plant protein and any other kind of protein."

The study was conducted by Massey, Ph.D., R.D., professor; and Susan A. Kynast-Gales, Ph.D., R.D., research associate, food science and human nutrition, Washington State University, Spokane, Wash. It was funded by America's beef producers through the beef checkoff.


A grants program funding this and other nutrition research projects at academic institutions across the country is managed by the National
Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) on behalf of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and state beef councils. Dozens of other projects are currently addressing such issues as beef nutrients in healthy diets, as well as their role in childhood development; beef in weight loss diets; and the benefit to the diet of beef lipids, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

"Doctors have been telling patients for years that 'animal protein is bad for you' and that 'you should cut out red meat,'" said Massey. "The fact is, people wouldn't stick to their diets because they simply like red meat."

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association