Research shows lean beef can help reduce factors for heart disease

Farm Forum

PIERRE — The Beef Checkoff Program along with the National Institutes of Health-supported Penn State General Clinical Research Center have conducted new research that adds to significant evidence that lean beef can play a role in a heart-healthy diet.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan is currently recommended by the American Heart Association to lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease. The DASH diet includes eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy to help lower blood pressure. The research has now added lean beef as the predominant protein source in a DASH-like diet. This plan is also called the BOLD+ diet: Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet plus additional protein.

“It’s important to remember that research in the field of human nutrition is constantly evolving and thus dietary recommendations are subject to change based on scientific evidence,” said Holly Swee, South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) director of nutrition. “The beef checkoff recognizes the need for research to help demonstrate the role of high-quality protein like lean beef in the diet. This new research adds to the growing body of evidence that supports beef’s role in a heart-healthy diet, which also helps to reduce blood pressure and ultimately helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. There is no one-size-fits-all eating pattern for any diet and these new findings from this research provides people with realistic solutions to help build a heart-heathy diet that includes lean beef that can be maintained over the long term.”

Researchers tested four diets to find the effects on vascular health. The diets tested included the Healthy American Diet – which served as the control – the BOLD+ diet, the BOLD diet and the DASH diet. The control diet consisted of 0.7 oz. of lean beef/ day, while the DASH diet included 1.0 oz. The BOLD diet had 4.0 oz. and the BOLD+ diet included 5.4 oz. of lean beef. The researchers tested the diets with 36 participants, ages 30 to 65. All participants followed each diet at different times throughout the study period. Subjects were randomly assigned an order to follow each of the four diet plans for five weeks each, with a break of one week in between each new plan. Blood pressure was taken at the beginning and end of each diet period.

Final conclusions of the study showed the BOLD+ diet was more effective at reducing blood pressure when compared to the other diets tested.

Specific meal plans and recipe ideas for the BOLD+ diet can be found at

Examples of heart-healthy recipes, which can be found on the website, include Thai Beef Noodle Salad, Szechuan Beef Stir-Fry, Ratatouille Meatball Pasta, and Farmer’s Market Vegetable, Beef and Brown Rice Salad. All recipes include lean beef and fit within BOLD+ and DASH diet guidelines.

“There are many lean beef cuts to choose from such as 95% Lean Ground Beef, Sirloin Steak and Flank Steak,” said Swee. “An easy rule of thumb to help identify lean cuts when shopping is to look for the term ‘loin’ or ’round’ in the name.”

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