Earlier this week we reported on the research claiming that supplementing a fast food diet with antioxidant vitamins could help nullify the potential risks of a high calorie diet. Now separate research from the US has shown that the addition of soybean phytosterols to lean ground beef can have a significant effect in reducing cholesterol levels.
A team of researchers from the department of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, led by Oksana Matvienko, carried out tests over a four-week period on 34 young men with elevated cholesterol levels. The men were randomly assigned to receive either lean (15 per cent fat) ground beef or ground beef with 2.7g of phytosterols.
The team found that the group which had consumed the beef with phytosterols showed a significant reduction in total in total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and other serum lipid levels, suggesting that the fortified lean ground beef was a healthier, lower fat alternative to other phytosterol-supplemented foods currently available.
Total cholesterol levels were reduced by 9.3 per cent in the treatment group compared to the control group, while LDL cholesterol levels fell by 14.6 per cent. The ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol fell by 9.1 per cent over the four weeks.
The soybean-extracted phytosterols that were used to supplement lean ground beef in the study were similar to those used in fortified margarine spreads currently available on the market. Previous studies of diets containing soy-phytosterol fortified margarine produced declines in serum lipids similar to the current study.
However, when used as directed, the margarine spreads add 12-27 grammes per day of extra fat to the diet without providing any other nutritional benefit. The authors pointed out that ground beef is the major single source of protein for young adult men and is an important source of dietary vitamin B12, niacin and zinc, and that fortifying ground beef with phytosterols may be a convenient way to tackle the escalating problem of obesity without obliging sufferers to undergo a significant change in diet.
The research was published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.