The recommendation to lower saturated fat intake is often interpreted as requiring the elimination of beef to control or lower serum cholesterol levels. The study hypothesis was that the Step I Diet (8% to 10% of energy intake from saturated fatty acids) containing beef would have the same effect on plasma lipid levels of hypercholesterolemic men as a like diet containing chicken.
Thirty-eight free-living hypercholesterolemic (otherwise healthy) men completed a 13-week dietary intervention study. Subjects consumed their usual diets for 3 weeks, followed by a 5-week stabilization diet (18% of energy intake from saturated fatty acids), before randomization to one of two test diets for 5 weeks. The test diets contained either 85 g of cooked beef (8% fat) or 85 g of cooked chicken (7% fat) per 4184 kJ and had 7% to 8% of energy from saturated fatty acids. All food was supplied during the stabilization and test diets.
The beef and chicken test diets both produced significant decreases in average plasma total cholesterol level (0.54 mmol/L [7.6%] for beef and 0.70 mmol/L [10.2%] for chicken) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level (0.46 mmol/L [9%] for beef and 0.55 mmol/L [11%] for chicken). Changes in average levels of plasma total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were not statistically different (smallest P=.26) between the beef and chicken test diets. The average triglyceride level did not change for either test diet group.
In this short-term study, comparably lean beef and chicken had similar effects on plasma levels of total, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride. We concluded that lean beef and chicken are interchangeable in the Step I Diet.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:1261-1267)