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Fighting fat with fat: red meat redeemed.

Fighting fat with fat: Red met redeemed

As a physician with a penchant for good food, Donald M. Small knew the heart risks posed by cholesterol and saturated fats, and he recognized red mea as a prime source of those nutritional no-no's. But not wishing to eschew red meats altogether, this kitchen chemist set to work concocting a simple way to extract their deleterious lipids. His stovetop recipe makes its debut in the Jan. 10 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE.

Pour one-half quart or more of vegetable oil -- preferably oilive or canola -- into a frying pan and heat to 176 [degrees] F. Add ground or thinly saved meat and stir until the slurry reaches about 195 [degrees] F. Stir for 5 more minutes, then increase the heat to about 225 [degrees] F for another 5 minutes to boil off the water and brown the meat. Drain, then rinse with clear boiling water. Save the rinse water, skimming off the surface oil. Boil the liquid to reduce it to a savory broth, and pour this over the meat.

Though health-conscious cooks may recoil at the suggestion to enhance meat's uptake of fat, in this recipe "the vegetable oil acts as a healthy solvent," Small says. The oil extracts about 40 percent of the meat's cholesterol and replaces much of the saturated fat with potentially healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, he explains.

If Americans used this new approach to prepare one-third of the red meat they currently consume, "it would lower the [total U.S.] consumption of saturated fats by about 3 percent of calories," Small and his coauthors assert in their report. Noting the relationship between saturated fat consumption and serum cholesterol levels, they suggest that this "modest dietary change" could reduce an individual's risk of cardiovascular disease, lowering serum cholesterol levels by an average of 7 to 9 milligrams per deciliter of blood.

Experimentally stir-fried lean ground beef lost about 18 percent of its cholesterol, whereas oil-fried batches lost 39 to 49 percent of their cholesterol, report the Boston University researchers, who drained and rinsed both batches identically. Moreover, while both batches lost about the same proportion of total fat (roughly 67 percent), the stir-fried batch retained its initial fatty-acid profile, which included 43 percent saturated fat. The oil-extracted batch, in contrast, contained only 25.5 percent saturated fat.

"For people who love to cook and savor their flavor, this might really expand their food choices," says Margo Denke of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. However, she observes, the oil requirement makes it "a very expensive way to cook." And the need to optimize the meat's surface contact with oil means the technique won't help steaks, roasts and patties.

Health-conscious diners might do better exploring "the world's vast array of vegetarian dishes containing no cholesterol and little [saturated fat]," contend Walter Willett and Frank M. Sacks of Harvard University in Boston. "The optimal intake of cholesterol is probably zero," they add in their editorial accompanying the research report.
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Title Annotation:how to get the fat and cholesterol out of meat
Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 12, 1991
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