CHICAGO, Ill. – A recent study confirms that including lean red meat in a sensible diet can positively impact blood cholesterol levels and actually help individuals follow the diet with better long-term compliance.
The study demonstrated that the consumption of lean red meat or lean white meat over an extended period of time is similarly effective in
reducing "bad" cholesterol and raising "good" cholesterol concentrations in those people with elevated cholesterol levels. The research was published in the June 2000 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol - the bad cholesterol - decreased for the duration of the study. In both groups, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (HDL) - the good cholesterol - increased.
Combined, these favorable changes in blood cholesterol levels could lead to a reduction in coronary heart disease (CHD) risk.
Results from the research's two 36-week treatment phases reaffirms the findings of the first phase of the study, published in the June 1999 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. That research concluded that a diet including six ounces of lean red meat consumed five or more days a week can favorably impact blood lipid levels and thereby may reduce the risk of CHD.
"This study is the largest and longest in providing evidence that the case against lean red meat has been misrepresented. It clearly shows that a heart-healthy diet containing up to six ounces of lean red meat can positively impact blood cholesterol levels," says Dr. Michael H. Davidson, M.D., F.A.C.C., Chicago Center for Clinical Research, and one of the lead researchers of the study.
The study, "Incorporation of Lean Red Meat into a National Cholesterol
Education Program Step I Diet: A Long-Term, Randomized Clinical Trial in Free Living Persons with Hypercholesterolemia," was conducted by the Chicago Center for Clinical Research, The Johns Hopkins University Lipid Clinic and the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinics.
One hundred forty five men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 75 years, with mildly to moderately elevated blood cholesterol levels completed both phases of the 72-week study. For the first 36-week phase, half of the group derived 80 percent of their meat intake from lean red meat sources (beef, veal or pork), while the other half derived it from lean white meat sources (fish, poultry). After a four-week washout period of free meat selection, the groups switched meat sources for the last 36-week phase.
"Clinical studies have confirmed that lean beef is interchangeable with lean chicken and fish with regard to its influence on blood cholesterol levels. This study reaffirmed clinical studies' findings, but in a free-living environment that allowed individuals the flexibility to consume lean red meat according to their own schedules and taste preferences," states Dr. Davidson.
"Since lean cuts of red meat are now readily available to consumers,
eliminating lean red meat is unnecessarily restrictive and advising against consumption may actually negatively impact long-term dietary compliance, thus increasing cholesterol levels," says Peter O. Kwiterovich, M.D., The Johns Hopkins University Lipid Clinic.
Dr. Davidson agrees. "For those individuals at risk for coronary heart
disease, consuming lean red meat is not only acceptable, it encourages
compliance to a heart-healthy diet," he says. According to health professionals, lean red meat can be easily incorporated into the diet, as there are a variety of lean cuts available in the meat case. Eight cuts of beef fall within the strict guidelines governing the "lean" designation as outlined in the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education
On average, seven of the cuts - eye round, top round, round tip, top
sirloin, bottom round, top loin, and tenderloin - have 6.2 grams of total fat and 2.3 grams of saturated fatty acids per three-ounce cooked serving.
The eighth cut - flank steak - has 8.6 grams of total fat and 3.7 grams of saturated fatty acids per three-ounce cooked serving.