Beef fat helps lower cholesterol

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 7, 2005
by WLJ
A nutrition scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, recently found that combining beef tallow and soybeans can improve the health of humans.
According to Dr. Tim Carr, the beef fat helps in allowing a vegetable-derived cholesterol-lowering sterol to be added to food without being wasted near as much as normal.
The dilemma has been that blood cholesterol-lowering sterols can be extracted from soybeans and added to other foods. However, the extract stuck to manufacturing equipment. However, Carr discovered that the combination of extract and tallow can be made into a powder, making it more applicable as a food additive. He further explained that sterols do not dissolve in liquids. However, mixing them with oil or fat makes them more soluble and useful in foods, such as margarine.
“My research is grounded in biochemistry, and I've worked many years with how cholesterol is transported in the bloodstream,” he said. “In recent years, I've focused more on how the diet influences cholesterol in the body, and we have discovered that not all fatty acids are created equal. That caused us to take a look at beef tallow.”
Carr said he wanted to create a "synergistic compound" that would work with the sterols in soybeans to create an effective cholesterol-lowering additive. Research revealed that stearic acid, a saturated fat found in beef tallow, could also lower blood cholesterol concentrations.
His research focused on a method to combine stearic acid with plant sterols. The challenge was to develop a process to make the combination soluble. In trials at the University of Nebraska, Carr found his additive reduced the low-density lipoprotein, or “bad cholesterol,” by 70 percent in hamsters, compared with just 10 percent with a commercial sterol additive.
Now, he needs to duplicate the results in humans.
“We're very close to starting up a human study,” he said.
The most probable mechanism of action of the beef tallow-soybean sterol combination is blocking the absorption of cholesterol from the digestive tract. Approximately 60 percent of the consumed cholesterol is absorbed from the human gastrointestinal tract. Carr said the new additive will reduce that percentage to five percent or less.
“This passes right through and takes the cholesterol with it," he said. — WLJ