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Insulin resistance increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis. Findings from a new study suggest that lean beef as part of a healthy dietary pattern may reduce this risk in people with insulin resistance.

The randomized, crossover, controlled trial, which involved 23 men and women (average age, 44 years) who were overweight or obese and had been diagnosed with prediabetes and/or metabolic syndrome, compared the effects of two dietary patterns on insulin sensitivity and cardiometabolic risk markers. One diet followed the USDA Healthy US-Style Eating Pattern, which is low in saturated fat and provides less than 40 grams of red meat per day. The other diet mirrored the first but provided an additional 150 grams (roughly five ounces) of lean beef per day as a replacement for carbohydrates (of nearly equal caloric content). Each participant consumed the two diets for four weeks, separated by a two-week washout period. At the end of each four-week diet period, the authors of the study assessed the participants' responses to the respective diets via measures of insulin sensitivity, lipid profiles, inflammation (measured by C-reactive protein), and blood pressure.

The participants' responses to the diets did not differ significantly with the exception of a notable increase in larger, more buoyant low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles when consuming the higher beef content diet. LDLs are formed in the liver and transport lipid molecules to cells. Often referred to as the “bad cholesterol,” LDLs can drive cardiovascular disease if they become oxidized within the walls of arteries. LDL particles exist in different sizes, ranging from large, “fluffy” molecules to small, dense molecules.

Scientific evidence suggests that small LDL particles are more susceptible to oxidative modification. Conversely, more buoyant particles are associated with a reduced risk of atherosclerotic disease. Learn more about LDL particles and disease risk in this podcast featuring Dr. Ronald Krauss.

Note: This study has industry funding sources, see press release for details.

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