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Making the Case for Heart Healthy Lean Beef

Telling Your Story

Evidence that can help change how consumers view beef in their diet

Published on: February 26, 2013

With February being American Heart Month, Hy-Vee dietitians are encouraging the consumption of lean beef as part of a heart-healthy diet.  

Although it seems like often we hear that red meat needs to be restricted due to high cholesterol problems, a new study looks at consuming only the lean cuts of beef.  Dietitian Amber Groeling says that most previous studies that have indicated beef needed to be restricted in diets looked at all cuts of beef rather than just the lean cuts.

The BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) study compares the consumption of 4 ounces of lean beef daily to the gold standard of heart-healthy eating, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Both diets contained a similar mix of nutrients, including fewer than 7% of calories from saturated fat, but the BOLD diet contained 4 ounces of lean beef each day while the DASH diet limited red meat.

At the end of the study, BOTH diets lowered LDL "bad" cholesterol in participants by 10%, providing evidence that beef may not be as bad for cholesterol and heart health as once thought.

Advancements in science may also change the way consumers view beef.

Cattle producers are actually raising beef that is leaner than it was fifty years ago. A sirloin steak now has 34% less total fat, compared to a sirloin steak in 1963.

We also know that over half the fat in beef is actually monounsaturated fat, the same type of heart-healthy fat found in olive oil.

There are more than 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for "lean," including T-bone, tenderloin, top sirloin and 95%-lean ground beef. Look for the words "loin" and "round" in the name to help identify lean beef cuts.  Here's a complete listing of lean cuts.

Hy-Vee dietitians recommend using the plate method to help incorporate lean beef in a heart-healthy way. This can be done by balancing your plate with one-fourth lean meat or protein, one-fourth whole grains or starchy veggies like potatoes, corn and peas, and one-half non-starchy veggies or fruit. For example, serve top sirloin steak with steamed green beans, roasted cauliflower, and a whole-grain roll for a tasty meal.