A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great News for BEEF Lovers! BOLD New Study Shows Beef Plays Role in Cholesterol-Lowering Diets

My buddy Adam paired up these two
beautiful ribeyes to form a beef "heart."
(Disclaimer: Ribeye is NOT one of
the 29 Lean Cuts of Beef. It is,
however, one of my favorites!)
BEHOLD, beef lovers, I bring you BOLD news of great joy! A new study published in the January 2012 edition of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating between 4.0 and 5.4 oz. of lean beef daily as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet can help lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol by 10 percent! According to the study, "beef can play a role in a cholesterol-lowering diet, despite commonly held beliefs."

Finally, some research that backs up what many of us have already known through personal experience. It's not the beef that leads to heart disease, its what you eat with it and what you do with it. Common sense and experience tells me that heart health is a total lifestyle issue.

When I was 30 years old, weighed 270, got no exercise and followed a high fat and high carb diet (including 3 Pepsis a day), my doctor told me I had high triglyceride and LDL levels, two early signs of heart disease.

The new MyPlate recommends at least
6 oz. of lean protein every day, more if
you are moderately physically active.
Today, at age 47, I get plenty of exercise, eat beef every day, and am trying to include more fruits, veggies and whole grains in my diet. Essentially, I try to follow the MyPlate recommendations including at least 6 oz. of lean protein every day (for men 31-50 years olf, click here to see the sex/age recommendations chart). That's a minimum number. If you are physically active more than 30 mins/day beyond regular activity you may need more.

Of course, my protein choice is beef because I believe beef offers more essential nutrients my body needs to be physically active for fewer calories than other proteins, including vegetable proteins. And now we have evidence that including lean beef in a cholesterol-lowering diet can improve heart health even better than heart heatlhy diets that emphasize plant proteins.

Specifically, the BOLD study (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) found that diets including lean beef every day are as effective in lowering total and LDL “bad” cholesterol as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and other heart-healthy diets, many of which emphasize plant proteins.

“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,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, distinguished professor of nutrition at PSU and the study’s principal investigator. “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.”

I love it when science validates common sense and real life experience!

Merry Christmas,



  1. and they probably would have shown even more improvement if they hadn't been using lean cuts of beef. It's a fact that diets high in Saturated Fat, moderate protein, and low in carbohydrates will show radical improvements in blood chemistry

  2. Scott, the BOLD study looked at lean beef in order to compare it to the DASH diet, which is diet many doctors recommend for people with heart disease or risk factors. DASH calls for less than 6 oz. of sat fat per day and only 1 oz. of beef. In the BOLD and BOLD+ diets the researchers kept the sat fat at that level while ramping up beef consumption to 4.0 and 5.4 oz. per day, respectively, proving that beef can be consumed at higher levels in a low sat fat diet (and achieve better reductions in LDL cholesterol than DASH). This study didn't look at higher sat fat diets, but I don't doubt what you say. I eat both lean and "non-lean" cuts of beef every day (I love a good ribeye)!

  3. By the way, the fat profile of beef is widely misunderstood. About half the fat in beef is monounsaturated fat. The other half is sat fat but 1/3 of it is stearic acid, which has a neutral affect on blood cholesterol. So if you want sat fat in your diet, the kind found in beef is high quality sat fat!


Please share your comment or question here!