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Mediterranean Diet With or Without Low Meat Intake May Improve Heart Health

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by high amounts of vegetables, legumes, cereals, fish, fruits and nuts, healthy mono-saturated fats such as olive oil, low amounts of saturated fats, moderate alcohol intake, and low intake of meat and dairy products. However, a recent study suggests that following the Mediterranean diet even without reducing red meat intake has a positive effect on heart health, if the red meat is lean and unprocessed.


Participants in the study included 41 people, 28 of whom were women and 13 of whom were men. The study included three five-week phases. For the first phase, participants consumed a Mediterranean-style eating pattern containing three ounces per day of lean, unprocessed beef or pork. For the second phase, they returned to their regular eating pattern. And for the third phase, they consumed a Mediterranean-style eating pattern with less red meat, three ounces twice weekly.


The researchers found that heart health indicators improved with both diets. However, only the typical meat intake diet resulted in improvements in LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol.


Researchers from Purdue University led the study. It was published on June 13, 2018, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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