Steak is back on the plate, at least from a nutritional point of view. New research out of Penn State has found that, contrary to popular belief, eating lean beef can actually reduce risk factors for heart disease.
The study, published in the Journal of Human Hypertension
, adds to a growing body of research that indicates beef — consumed in moderate amounts — is not a significant contributor to heart disease and may in fact confer health benefits, Medical Xpress
"This research adds to the significant evidence, including work previously done in our lab, that supports lean beef's role in a heart-healthy diet," said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Penn State. "This study shows that nutrient-rich lean beef can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet that reduces blood pressure, which can help lower the risk for cardiovascular disease."
The American Heart Association currently recommends the DASH eating plan — short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — to lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease. People following the DASH diet are encouraged to eat fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and protein predominantly from plant sources.
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But the new Penn State research indicates lean beef can be enjoyed as the predominant protein source in a DASH-like diet, along with fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy, to effectively help lower blood pressure in healthy individuals.
To reach their conclusions, Kris-Etherton and colleagues tested four diets on 36 volunteers to determine the effects on cardiovascular health. All participants followed each diet for five weeks each during the study, with a one-week break in between each new plan. Blood pressure was taken at the beginning and end of each diet period.
The results showed diets that included 5.4 ounces of lean beef each day was more effective at reducing blood pressure when compared to the other diets tested (which had lower levels or no beef at all).
"This evidence suggests that it is the total protein intake — not the type of protein — that is instrumental in reducing blood pressure, as part of a DASH-like dietary pattern," the researchers said.
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