Eating lots of red meat tends to be connected to potentially poor heart health.
But following a new study, experts want to remind consumers that there is a place for lean beef within a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet and that small portions of meat could potentially help lower risk factors for developing heart disease.
"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 Penn State. "There are still important nutrients in beef that you can benefit from by eating lean cuts like the loin or round, or 93 per cent lean ground beef."
Nutritionists have long advocated for adopting a diet consisting of a high intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.
The study, which involved 59 participants, saw each person consume a diet consisting of different amounts of meat for four weeks each, with a one-week break between each. Participants' blood samples were tested over the course of the investigation.
After the data were analysed, the researchers found that participants all had lower LDL cholesterol following the Mediterranean diet periods compared to the average American diet.
"Our study helped illustrate the benefits associated with a healthy Mediterranean dietary pattern that embodies balance, variety, and the inclusion of nutrient-rich components, which can include low to moderate amounts of lean beef," Fleming added.
Full study results have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.