Canadians can put to rest health concerns they have about the fat in beef. Scientists from the University of Alberta presented study results last week that demonstrated that beef fat does not raise blood cholesterol levels.
There's a strong public perception that beef raises blood cholesterol levels because some of the fatty acids are saturated. Even when the study subjects were eating beef twice a day, their total and LDL blood cholesterol levels were the same as when they were eating a diet of primarily chicken, beans and pulses.
The researchers designed diets that were high and low in beef fat but had a consistent total fat level of 36 per cent of calories. This fat intake mimics typical Canadian eating patterns. While on the high beef fat diets, the nine subjects enjoyed meals with up to four ounces (100 g) of trimmed rib steak, lean ground beef, beef sausage, luncheon meats twice a day.
Since polyunsaturated fat is known to counter the negative effects of some saturated fats, the researchers tested this possibility as well. But whether the diets contained high or low levels of polyunsaturated fat, in the form of linoleic acid, the results were the same. Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good) cholesterol remained unchanged in these subjects who initially had normal cholesterol levels.
Although the University of Alberta subjects had normal cholesterol levels, another recent study from the University of Laval showed that people who are being treated for high blood cholesterol levels can also enjoy lean beef. Low fat diets containing lean beef were just as effective in lowering cholesterol as those containing poultry or lean fish.
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