For years, clinical research has linked consumption of red meat to health problems including cardiovascular diseases due to its high content of LDL cholesterol.
However, a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating moderate amounts of lean beef with a Mediterranean diet is healthy and has the potential of lowering the risk of contracting heart disease.
This study highlights the importance of including lean beef in a Mediterranean dietary pattern that can yield heart-healthy benefits.
“When you create a healthy diet built on fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, it leaves room for moderate amounts of other foods like lean beef,” said Jennifer Fleming, assistant teaching professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University and the study’s principal investigator.
“There are still important nutrients in beef that you can benefit from by eating lean cuts like the loin or round, or 93 percent lean ground beef,” she added.See Also:Health News
Though red meat consumption has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, it has always been difficult to prove whether its consumption directly contributes to the condition or not. This is because other lifestyle and dietary behaviors go hand in hand with the consumption of red meat.
In addition, the definition of red meat is quite broad as both processed and unprocessed meats are generally classified as red meats.
Typically, processed meat has a different nutritional profile than fresh meat due to additives and preservatives, such as sodium. This could explain why red meat is often reported as highly unhealthy.
“Our results demonstrate that the consumption of a healthy Mediterranean-style dietary pattern with different amounts of lean beef improves lipids and lipoproteins when compared with a typical American dietary pattern containing lean beef,” the researchers wrote in the study.
“These findings are consistent with previous research showing that consuming lean, unprocessed red meat as part of a DASH-style diet does not attenuate the favorable effects on lipids and lipoproteins,” they added. “Similar findings also were observed with the inclusion of lean beef and pork as part of a Mediterranean-style diet compared with a Mediterranean diet containing beef or pork.”
The study involved 59 people, with every participant consuming Mediterranean and American diets for four weeks each. There was a one-week break between the diets. Blood samples were drawn at the start and end of each diet.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that all the participants had lower LDL cholesterol when consuming the Mediterranean diet than when they were on the American diet.
“This study highlights the importance of including lean beef in a Mediterranean dietary pattern that can yield heart-healthy benefits,” concluded David J. Baer, a researcher at the United States Department of Agriculture’s research service and study co-principal investigator.