Recent BOLD study shows beef an essential part of a daily heart-health diet |

Recent BOLD study shows beef an essential part of a daily heart-health diet

Photo by Amanda Radke"It is completely unnecessary to limit beef intake in a heart-healthy diet," said Shalene McNeill, Ph.D., DR/LD, National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) executive director of human nutrition.

There’s good news for beef lovers everywhere. A new study called “Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet” (BOLD) – published in December’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that diets including lean beef every day are as effective in lowering total and LDL “bad” cholesterol as the gold standard of heart-healthy diets.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University, led by Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., distinguished professor of nutrition, evaluated adults with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, measuring the impact of diets including varying amounts of lean beef on total and LDL cholesterol levels. Study participants experienced a 10 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol, while consuming diets containing 4.0 to 5.4 ounces of lean beef daily.

The research found in this study adds to the growing body of evidence that shows lean beef can be part of a heart-healthy diet. It’s backed by a recent Harvard review that compiled 20 epidemiological studies encompassing more than one million subjects concluding that red meat intake does not increase risk of heart disease.

Shalene McNeill, Ph.D., DR/LD, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) executive director of human nutrition research shared the findings from the BOLD study, and stressed the importance of spreading the good news during American Heart Health month this February.

“The BOLD study looked at 36 healthy men and women with elevated LDL-cholesterol levels, and the subjects were assigned to follow various diets: the healthy American diet; DASH diet (limited red meat); BOLD diet; or BOLD-plus (high protein),” she explained. “This was a rigorously designed, high-quality study.”

McNeill is a recognized leader in food, nutrition and agriculture, who works to educate consumers about the nutritional role of dietary protein in weight management and optimal health, as well as inform the public about beef’s function as a nutrient-rich food and the nutrition profile of beef as it relates to heart health.

“Today’s beef is lean and easily fits into the recommended standards for saturated fat intake in the diet, which is 10 percent of your daily caloric intake,” McNeill said. “Adding beef to your diet every day improves or reduces LDL cholesterol just as much as the DASH diet, which limits red meat and encourages lean fish, chicken, fruits and vegetables. It is completely unnecessary to limit beef intake in a heart-healthy diet.”

McNeill summarized the study that showed that beef can play a beneficial role in a cholesterol-lowering, heart-healthy diet. Julie Sodano, NCBA senior director of food and nutrition public relations, echoed these comments and offered advice on how to share the BOLD message with consumers.

“There are several materials available to help extend the BOLD message,” she said. “The checkoff contributed a press release that was sent to leading health and consumer magazines. We also compiled a fact sheet, which included a healthy beef recipe. A brochure will also be available soon.”

All of these materials can be viewed at The positive messages are already starting to spread, with WebMD and SHAPE Magazine, to name just a few, praising beef in the diet.

“Heart disease continues to be the number-one killer of both men and women in this country and controlling cholesterol levels is thought to be the most effective way of reducing the risk of heart disease. Meat is usually the first diet element to get the old heave-ho when it comes to cholesterol management. However, a new study shows that including lean beef, such as sirloin, in a heart-healthy diet was as effective for lowering cholesterol as traditional heart-healthy diets.

“The take home message is that lean beef can be included in a heart-healthy diet and, best yet, there are 29 cuts of beef that fall into the lean category,” reported David Grotto for WebMD.

“I encourage producers to spread the good news on Facebook and Twitter,” Sodano advised. “Talk to your health care professional. Buy a copy of The Healthy Beef Cookbook for your friends and family.”

To kick off American Heart Health Month this February, take Sodano’s advice and spread the good news about healthy beef as a part of a well-balanced diet.

Editor’s note: For more on the study visit

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