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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? Primebeef 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.