Good news! Beef burgers can lower blood pressure (probably)

We’re not saying that a trip to [insert fast food restaurant of your choice] is good for you. But surprisingly, beef isn’t the enemy of heart health it’s often been painted as. In fact, new research by nutritional scientists shows that eating beef can actually help reduce risk factors for heart disease. The key is that it has to be lean beef (so homemade burgers or artisanal low-fat ones from that hipster-ish joint that you always thought were overpriced are probably best).

Penny M. Kris-Etherton, a Professor of Nutrition at Penn State university, led research comparing four diets to see which one had the most positive impact on heart health. The diets included the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan, which consists of fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and protein mainly taken from plant sources.

They compared this with the BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) and BOLD+ (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet plus additional protein) diets. A control group ate 0.7 (19.8g) ounces of lean beef a day, those following DASH got an ounce (28.3g), the BOLD diet involved 4 ounces (113g), and people following BOLD+ got to chow down on 5.4 ounces (153g) of lean beef.

Thirty-six participants aged 30-65 all followed each diet at different times, with a week’s break in between. Their blood pressure was measured at the start and end of each eating plan. The verdict? It’s better to be bold, or rather, BOLD+. Compared to the other diets tested, it was the most effective at reducing blood pressure, which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease.

Although this is definitely good news, it’s just one study, and a small one at that. Plus, it was funded in part by The Beef Checkoff Program, a marketing and research program aimed at increasing demand for beef, so it’s possible it isn’t entirely objective. But do you want to nitpick, or do you want to eat delicious (lean) burgers on a regular basis? Pass the ketchup, please…

Image via Katherine Lim’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley