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BEEF WEEK! Myth #2

"But isn't beef bad for heart health?"

Thanks to the beef council, there is an abundance of beef based studies and recipes, all in one place! Here is a summary of what I have found.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition1, researchers from Penn State University found that people who participated in the beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) Study maintained healthy blood cholesterol levels while consuming a dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans, with lean beef as the primary protein source. The BOLD diets contained 4-5.4 oz (weights before cooking) of lean beef daily while providing less than 7% of calories from saturated fat, consistent with current fat intake targets. The BOLD study is one of the latest additions to the body of evidence that supports including lean beef in a heart-healthy diet.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, additional research found that following a Mediterranean-style healthy dietary pattern that incorporates fresh lean beef can reduce heart disease risk factors, including total and LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. By incorporating 7-18 ounces of cooked, fresh, lean red meat per week, individuals can improve their cardiometabolic disease risk factor profile, including high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and diabetes risk.

This research adds to the growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating that lean beef can be part of healthy eating patterns to improve cardiovascular health.1,2,4,5 In fact, over 20 studies of lean beef in healthy dietary patterns support a role for lean beef in a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.6

Incorporate lean beef into your lifestyle by following these simple tips:

  • Choose lean beef at the meat counter. There are more than 36 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean7. A tip for finding lean beef cuts is to look for the terms “round” or “loin” (e.g., Sirloin, Tenderloin, or Eye of Round).

  • Keep portion size in mind. A sensible and satisfying 3 ounces cooked serving of lean beef is about the size of a deck of cards.

  • Trim away any visible fat from cooked beef before serving.

  • When it comes to lowering cholesterol, small steps can get big results. The American Heart Association recommends eating a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. When choosing meats, choose the leanest cuts available, trim visible fat, and prepare them in delicious ways. Ideas include broiling, roasting, or poaching. Furthermore, do not forget to pair them with fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Enjoying lean beef in a heart-healthy lifestyle is easier than you think. These recipes feature lean beef, fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains. These recipes are all certified by the American Heart Association®.

Check out the AHA-certified recipes.


  1. Roussell MA, et al. Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet study: effects on lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:9-16.

  2. O'Connor LE, et al. A Mediterranean-style eating pattern with lean, unprocessed red meat has cardiometabolic benefits for adults who are overweight or obese in a randomized, crossover, controlled feeding trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2018;108:33-40.ii

  3. Sayer DR, et al. Equivalent reductions in body weight during the Beef WISE Study: Beef’s Role in Weight Improvement, Satisfaction, and Energy. Obesity Science & Practice. 2017; 298-310.

  4. Layman DK, et al. A moderate-protein diet produces sustained weight loss and long-term changes in body composition and blood lipids in obese adults. J Nutr 2009;139:514-21.

  5. Maki KC, et al. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing lipid effects of beef with poultry and/or fish consumption. J Clin Lipidol 2012;6:352-61.

  6. McNeill, SH. Inclusion of red meat in healthful dietary patterns. Meat Sci 2014;98:452-60.

  7. According to the USDA, a cute of cooked fresh meat is considered lean when it contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams (3 ½ oz) and per RACC (Reference Amount Customarily Consumed) which is 85 grams (3 oz) cooked.


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