A new study has found that eating bigger portions of beef can actually be good for your heart, helping to lower blood pressure and prevent strokes, heart disease, and atherosclerosis.
For decades, it has been taught that red meat increases blood pressure and causes cancer, with nutritional guidelines in the UK and the US recommended at no more than 70 grams of beef or other red meat per day.
What did the new study find?
Clinical trials conducted at Purdue University in Indiana discovered that eating more than 70 grams of beef or pork per day has no effect on the short-term risks of heart disease, hypertension, and the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol in the blood.
In fact, their study showed that organic red meat is, in fact, an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for their patients.
Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutritional science, says: “During the last 20 years, there have been recommendations to eat less red meat as part of a healthier diet, but our research supports that red meat can be incorporated into a healthier diet. Red meat is a nutrient-rich food, not only as a source of protein but also bio-available iron.”
Why was red meat previously limited?
When the dietary habits of people diagnosed with cardiovascular disease were studied, it was found that they predominantly ate red meat and included limited amounts of fresh produce in their diet.
Due to this, it was suggested that people suffering from cardiovascular disease should increase their fruit and vegetable intake while slightly decreasing their red meat intake. The advice was never intended to become a global standard for eating less red meat in general because it has never been found to cause cardiovascular disease.
Are there any risks?
Professor Campbell decided to further investigate the results of previous clinical trials to find out if there was an association between eating habits and health risks, particularly for red meat lovers.
Lauren O’Conner, a doctoral student, and Jung Eun Kim, a postdoctoral researcher joined Professor Campbell to screen hundreds of related research articles and publications to evaluate the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Their analysis of 24 separate studies that met the criteria was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“We found that consuming more than half a serving of red meat per day, which is equivalent to a 3-ounce serving three times per week, did not worsen the blood pressure and blood total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride concentrations, which are commonly screened by healthcare providers,” confirmed Professor O’Connor.
Their research included the analysis of the consumption of all kinds of red meat, such as unprocessed and grass-fed steak, beef strips, and lean mincemeat. The duration of each study ranged from a few weeks to a few months, while it could take decades for someone to develop heart disease.
“It is important to recognize that our findings are specific to selected indicators for cardiovascular disease risk. Comparable research is needed to assess other health risk factors from clinical trials, including inflammation and blood glucose control,” they said.
While research is still ongoing, current evidence shows that eating red meat can actually be beneficial for the health of your heart, even though it is best consumed as part of a healthy, fiber-rich diet.