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Good News for Meat Lovers

Three studies show benefits of lean beef


Jan/Feb 2023

Three studies published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveal that lean beef can be good for you.

The first found that lean beef could be added to the “gold-standard” DASH diet. Adding a daily serving of up to 5.4 ounces of lean beef to the DASH diet reduced total and LDL cholesterol just as effectively as the traditional DASH diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish. Saturated fat was limited to 6% of daily calories for each test group.

Two subsequent studies in 2018 and 2021 found that lean beef could be added to a heart-healthy Mediterranean-style eating pattern, which typically is considered low in red meat as well as in sugar and sodium and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and olive oil.

The 2018 study found adults who were overweight or moderately obese were able to improve heart health by adopting this eating pattern, with or without reducing red meat intake. The study compared Mediterranean eating with 3 ounces of meat (lean, unprocessed beef and pork) per day versus the commonly recommended 3 ounces twice per week.

“Overall, heart health indicators improved with both Mediterranean-style eating patterns,” says Lauren E. O’Connor, lead author of the 2018 study. “Interestingly, though, participants’ LDL cholesterol, which is one of the strongest predictors we have to indicate the development of cardiovascular disease, improved with typical but not lower red meat intake.”


The National Academy of Medicine recommends adults get about 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. That means a 140-pound person would need about 50 grams of protein per day. A 3-ounce serving of beef packs half that — 25 grams — in just about 175 calories (exact amounts will vary based on cut). It also provides all the essential amino acids needed by the body.

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