We’ve all heard that a good thick steak takes us one step closer to a heart attack, but Glenneis Erasmus finds that new research indicates otherwise.
South Africans can indulge in their braai chops and steaks without worrying about their cholesterol. Increasing evidence indicates that lean red meat, trimmed of all visible fat, doesn’t raise cholesterol levels. In fact, it’s now proven that red meat is low in saturated fats and actually has the same beneficial cholesterol-lowering effects as white meat or even soya products, if consumed as part of a low fat diet, according to Louw Hoffman of the Department of Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch. t Agri Mega Week, recently held in Bredasdorp, pointed out that it’s primarily the visible fat in red meat that poses a health risk for people vulnerable to coronary disease. “In general the visible fat of ruminant meats, such as beef and lamb, has a higher lipid level – more than 80% – than pork and poultry,” he says. “Once the visible fat is trimmed, lean red meat often contains less than 5% lipids.”
One recent study found it appears to be inaccurate to classify beef fat as a hypercholestrolemic saturated fat, a classification which includes coconut oil, hydrogenated vegetable oils, butterfat and swine fat. The study evaluated the fasting human plasma lipid and lipoprotein responses to beef fat, comparing them to responses to the common reference saturated fat, coconut oil, and safflower oil, which is classified as a polyunsaturated fat.
The study found that beef fat’s effects on various plasma lipoproteins differed significantly from coconut oil, but were very similar to safflower oil. ther studies found the stearic acid content of beef fat reduces its cholesterol-raising potential. explains that stearic acid is a long-chain saturated fatty acid that, unlike other saturated fatty acids, doesn’t raise serum cholesterol concentrations. ther studies found that maintaining or increasing beef consumption has no effect on serum cholesterol in men.
Not only has lean red meat been found not to be associated with coronary disease, it’s also a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc and iron. “Eating red meat can therefore actually contribute to good health,” Hoffman says. For more information contact Louw Hoffman on (021) 808 4750 or e-mail [email protected].