Public Release: 

Lean ground beef fortified with soybean phytosterols lowers cholesterol

Study of Young Men at Risk of Heart Disease

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Development of long-term diets for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in young men includes the promotion of cholesterol-lowering foods that are familiar and palatable enough to ensure the long-term adherence that is necessary for successful treatment. Matvienko et al., publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, conducted a trial among 34 young men with elevated cholesterol in which lean ground beef fortified with soybean phytosterols was consumed at lunch every day for 4 weeks. The men experienced significant reductions in total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and other serum lipid indicators, suggesting that fortified lean ground beef may be a healthier, lower fat alternative to other phytosterol-supplemented foods currently available.

Thirty-four subjects, all college students averaging 22 years old, had at least 3 risk factors for CVD, including mildly elevated total and LDL cholesterol. In a randomized trial, half the men consumed lean ground beef (15% fat) fortified with soybean phytosterols, and the other half consumed regular lean ground beef for lunch every day for 28 days. Compared to the control group, participants in the treatment group reduced plasma total cholesterol by 9.3%, LDL cholesterol by 14.6%, and the ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol by 9.1% in 4 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 g/day of extra fat to the diet without providing any other nutritional benefit. The authors point 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. Given the current high prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, supplementing lean ground beef with soybean phytosterols may be a lower fat and more nutritious alternative to fortified margarine for the purposes of lowering CVD risk in this population.


Matvienko, Oksana A et al. A single daily dose of soybean phytosterols in ground beef decreases serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in young, mildly hypercholesterolemic men. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:57-64.

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