By Amanda Hill

Healthy eating and improving health habits top the list of New Year’s resolutions for many Texans each year. If eating a heart healthy diet tops your list for 2012, a new study by Pennsylvania State University may give you some pretty tasty motivation.

The recent study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating lean beef—including top sirloin, tenderloin and 95 percent lean ground beef—every day could improve LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) levels by 10 percent. Eat a steak and improve your health? Sounds good to me!

Researchers followed 36 men and women, ages 30-65, who had moderately high cholesterol levels. The participants were divided into four diets:

  • Healthy American Diet (HAD)—Control diet with refined grains, full-fat dairy products, oil and butter to reflect a “typical” American diet. This diet included 0.7 ounces of lean beef per day.
  • Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)—The “gold standard” heart healthy diet, consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy and limited red meat (1 ounce of lean beef per day).
  • Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD)—Similar to the DASH diet but included 4 ounces of lean beef as the primary daily protein source.
  • Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet Plus (BOLD-PLUS)—Similar to the BOLD diet but increased the protein and lean beef daily intake to 5.4 ounces.

At first glance, you might think the DASH diet—with its focus on vegetables, nuts and beans—would provide the best heart healthy results. Actually, the BOLD and BOLD-PLUS diets, which included servings of protein-rich lean beef, proved to pack more protein, lower carbohydrates and provide about the same amount of fat as the diets with minimal lean beef.

Kelly wrote about the health benefits of lean beef a few months back. She shared that a 3-ounce serving is only 180 calories and provides 25 grams of protein. Combine that with the heart healthy effect of lower cholesterol, and there’s proof that healthy eating can taste great.

If you’re resolving to improve your health and lower cholesterol in 2012, check out for heart healthy recipes and more nutritional information on lean beef. You might also take a look at The Healthy Beef Cookbook by the American Dietetic Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for more great recipes.

Here’s to a happy and heart healthy 2012!