Selenium the key to lower cholesterol levels in beef?

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Beef Livestock

Brazilian study looks investigates potential to lower cholesterol in cattle
Brazilian study looks investigates potential to lower cholesterol in cattle
Research from Brazil has pointed to the use of mineral and micronutrient selenium as a potential method of reducing cholesterol in cattle.

The study, which began in March 2012, has just been completed by the University of São Paulo’s School of Animal Science and Food Engineering.

Entitled ‘Influence of sunflower oil, selenium and vitamin E inclusion on meat quality from confined beef cattle and its effects on human nutrition and health’, the study was headed up by Doctor Marcus Antonio Zanetti, and was carried out in response to that fact that beef is "frequently related to cardiovascular illnesses due to its fat acids ratio and cholesterol levels".

Its objective was to determine the effect of sunflower oil as a fat source, combined with the antioxidant effects of selenium and vitamin E, on metabolism, meat lipid oxidation and in its nutritional value, beyond its influence on human health.

One study examined the effects on Nelore bovines of having a controlled diet with or without the addition of sunflower oil, selenium and vitamin E, in varying quantities. The second experiment involved monitoring the effect on the human diet of the consumption of meat produced in the animal science experiment.

The result was that the meat produced from the animals on the diet comprising the addition of selenium, vitamin E and sunflower oil contained lower levels of cholesterol, and the scientists believed selenium might be a key ingredient in that.

Zanetti said: "We supplemented the diet of animals with 2.5mg of organic selenium per cow per day for a period of three months during fattening and found that, in addition to increasing the amount of selenium in the blood of animals, the mineral content in the meat produced was six times greater than meat from beef cattle that have not had the supplemented diet."

He added that the cholesterol level in the blood and meat of the animals that were fed the selenium-enriched diet was reduced significantly.

In the second part of the study, the supplemented meat was included in the meals of 80 elderly people for a period of up to 90 days. After 45 days, the blood test analysis revealed an increase in the amount of selenium in the blood plasma, but the results of the cholesterol rates are not yet complete.

"Strengthening the immune system of people and helping health professionals, nutritionists and all those involved in the meat production chain find a practical way to do so is one of the objectives of this research,"​ he added.

The study was funded by the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (FAPES).

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