From the Ground Up: Debunking Myths About Heart Health and Beef

The Texas Beef Council funds research, education, and marketing efforts to promote beef. Currently, they have a program that reaches out to physicians who see patients with high cholesterol or heart disease to expose them to research that discredits the notion that beef shouldn’t be part of a heart healthy diet. Hawley Poinsett is the senior manager of nutrition with the Texas Beef Council.

“Back in the eighties, there were only six cuts that met the USDA definition for lean. Now there’s thirty-eight, and that’s on purpose, which is a great time for us to talk about how farmers and ranchers care. This is because of changes that they made. It just doesn’t happen overnight. Because of changes in breeding and selection and changes in feeding practices, and then changes in trimming, we’ve been able to really increase the number of cuts.”

Poinsett sites what was believed to be the gold standard research for heart health that spawned something called the Dash Diet.

“Most health professionals have heard of it but they don’t understand it. Unfortunately, in the inception of it, it got translated into eliminate or at least reduce your red meat. It was never the intention of the diet, but it just kind of got transposed that way in headlines. And because of that, there’s a lot of research behind it, physicians, the only thing they may say is, well you have heart disease now, or you have a high chance of it, so I want you cut out the red meat, or only eat it at special occasions. And the research doesn’t support that.”

Poinsett says that The Texas Beef Council funded a large controlled trial, taking that same Dash Diet and replaced the protein source with lean beef daily in different amounts.

“And what they showed was equal reductions in LDL or the bad cholesterol. So that’s great information for us to bring the doctors to say look, we’re here to tell you something your patients can eat. You get to tell them something they can do, not something they can’t do.”

Poinsett points out that doctors can now allow heart patients to choose the protein source that they think tastes the best.

“A leading lipidologist did a research study, and he took all the different research that already existed on chicken and in beef with heart health and said, are there differences? And what he found was that they’re equal in being able to manage heart disease, so it doesn’t have to be just chicken.”