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J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Mar;104(3):424-8.

Adolescents eating diets rich in either lean beef or lean poultry and fish reduced fat and saturated fat intake and those eating beef maintained serum ferritin status.

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College of Public Health, C21G GH, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Reducing red meat intake to lower serum cholesterol may also lower iron and zinc intake. Eighty-six seventh and eighth graders who enrolled in a study comparing serum ferritin, zinc, and cholesterol levels were randomized to a low-fat eating pattern emphasizing either lean beef or lean poultry and fish. Serum data and three 24-hour recalls were collected at baseline and 3 months. The lean beef group ate significantly more beef [26 (4, 37) g/d; P<.01] and both groups reduced total and saturated fat intake. Although serum ferritin level change between baseline and intervention was significantly different between the lean beef and lean poultry and fish groups (median [interquartile range] 0.7 [-6, 8] and -6.8 [-12, 2] microg/dL, respectively), the drop in the lean poultry and fish group was not clinically significant. No differences were observed in iron and zinc intake or in serum zinc and cholesterol levels. Teenagers eating diets low in saturated fat may benefit from adequate amounts of lean red meat.

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