Young and Hungry

Can Piedmontese Beef Help Lower Your Cholesterol? One Man’s Story.

Italian beef experimenter Lou Cantolupo

Italian beef experimenter Lou Cantolupo

Pam the Butcher at Wagshal’s was insistent that  “Piedmontese” beef — prime by the way — had lower cholesterol than chicken.

“Of course," I said, "if you’re talking about a bucket of KFC with mac and cheese and biscuits and gravy.” I mean, seriously? Prime beef lower in cholesterol, saturated fat, and higher in all the good fats than chicken breast meat?

I trust Pam. I trust her with my palate, how-to-do-this-or-that, and with being a great person overall. But when you start trusting your health to a butcher...well, c'mon.

I’ve always had a slight issue with cholesterol, in particular, having too much of it. I’ve always been around the 200 mark, and when you’re in the 200s that’s concerning. Now that I’m approaching the big 4-0, my cholesterol hasn’t gone down. It just continues to go up, as a lot of things do as you age (weight, total glucose, hairs growing out your nose).

Even watching what I was ingesting and taking a statin along with niacin, I wasn't lowering my total cholesterol much. It still hovered around 200-220, the dreaded triglycerides always borderline high (“too high for your age,” the doc would say), and my LDL:HDL ratios were always out of whack by having too much of the bad and not enough good. I’m a walking double-bypass waiting to happen.

Red meat, for me, has always been persona non grata and eaten in limited quantities — during a celebration only or if I was really drunk and didn’t care.

And so here I was staring at these beautiful New York strips at Wagshal's. As a former scientist, I figure, “Why not give it a shot?” Experiment on myself. Shit, this is how one dude won the Nobel prize (for discovering that ulcers were caused by bacteria).

“Doctor Pam, I’ll take two of those strips.”

I would wind up eating these things once, maybe twice a week. Check my blog for what I was up to with it, and you’ll see I’m not a light eater overall. Mind you, this stuff ain’t cheap at nearly $25 a pound, but I was happily drinking the Kool-Aid.

First off, you’d never know there’s anything different about the beef except that it’s absolutely delicious. The marbling is intense, the flavor deep, and the texture is what you want at $25 a pound. You’re getting your money’s worth. This doesn’t taste like ostrich, buffalo, venison, or some other exotic of the moment because it isn’t. This is beef — and really really great tasting beef at that.

But what do the numbers show?

My last cholesterol test came in and, well, my total cholesterol was 154, my triglycerides normal, and my LDL:HDL ratios in line. Never in my life — even when I was in the best shape in my life — has this happened. I swear I did nothing different except switch around the beef, and maybe increased my exercise a little (running 2.5 times a week instead of 2). My blood pressure is actually lower, too.

Sure, I ate fish maybe once more a month, too, but that’s gotta be negligible. What is not negligible is that I ate more beef during the week. Much more and loving it at the same time.

Hard to believe, I know, but I’m sold. I just gotta start collecting a bigger paycheck to support the habit.

  • eli

    you know, this is what all the argentines will tell you. that grass fed beef is good for you and that you only have to worry about corn and grain fed beef. no idea if this is true, but hey, look at your numbers. congrats.

  • robin

    I wonder if regular grass fed and finished beef will have the same effects. Try it since you are in he experimental mood.

  • benni

    WOW! That's cool that you got such great results form PRIME! I've read in Men's Health Magazine that Piedmontese Beef was better for you but I didn't know that the same was true for prime pied. I always thought that it was a lean beef? I don't care so much about the health aspect of Piedmontese, I just think it flat out taste better. I always order it when I see it on a menu.

  • rick

    Awesome... It taste great and it's good for you too! Sign me up for two steaks a week too! Anyone know where I can buy it on the west coast?

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  • Lou

    Hi All -

    Thanks for the feedback! In terms of some general questions, I'm not certain that eating leaner, regular beef would have the same effect. The deal with the Piedmontese is that the cows themselves are naturally this way; they've been bred this way and it's just a property of them. From what I remember, they already eat grass so that factor can be removed.

    As far as getting it on the west coast, contact the Piedmontese Association link that's in the article. Someone there might be able to help out.


  • Home Cholesterol Test

    You and your doctor may decide first to treat your high cholesterol without medicine. Changes to your lifestyle and diet may be all you need. These changes include eating foods low in saturated fat, being more active, losing weight if you need to, and quitting smoking if needed.
    If you cannot lower your cholesterol enough after trying lifestyle changes for a few months, you may need to take a medicine called a statin.

  • Shelley

    We raise Pied cross cattle. I sure wish you were all here in the central Washington area - we sell directly to the consumer: Gourmet beef at direct-from-the-farmer prices. Contact Shelley at for more information!!

  • lower cholesterol

    Wow! That's great. It's good to hear that piedmontese beef can lower cholesterol.

    I realize that changing life style can help lowering cholesterol. Thanks for the information.

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  • Teresa

    There are lots of foodstuffs out there that haven't been discovered as cures to diseases. Maybe this is your big break. Some people have recommended these 5 foods to lower your cholesterol,Apples, walnuts, garlic, soy products and grapes. I believe it is what works out well for you...

  • Louann

    I have been researching the breed for a little over a year now while I try to save up enough money to make my first purchase of some bred cows and start a small breeding program and promote this wonderful breed. I have the property, have the barn and the hay, just got to get some good fencing up and we will be ready to go...But they do have to share the ranch with my horses...I'm just sayin.

  • Trae Pawly

    Finely Piedmontese is getting some rightfully deserved credit. We have raised this incredible breed for the past 26 years. They are full blood. We started raising them because my father had quadruple bypass. He is still kick an and as honorary as ever. I was 21 when I got my state approved label for distribution of the meet. It is now under a USDA label. I went over to Italy to Piedmont valleys and met with the ranchers and the Italian association. I learned about there AI program and listen to anything that they had to tell me about raising. I do not just promote the breed, I am strongly against the use of steroids and growth enhancers in the meat industry. USDA is fine with the use.  I am now going to start selling it to a local meat market in San Antonio TX.  I have decided not to be greedy with my meet any longer. We were just raising it for ourselves and friends. I had stop pursuing on massmarketing because I got tired of going up against the so-called Angus beef. Which is probably one of the most unhealthiest meat you can eat. Did you know my animals actually gets docked at the auction because they're white and not black. There is lots of politics in this industry. In our program, I will follow the natural Italian way of producing the best beef that you can eat  dispite hitting the roadblocks of the big black beast. 

    I applaud your blog. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you live a long and healthy life.

    Sincerely,  Trae Pawly owner of Sun Cattle Company

  • tom o dwyer

    i got my first piedmontese 5 years ago and I now sell the beef to my neighbours here in tipperary ireland.

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