The Steaks are High – 28 September 2016
Last week I attended the World Steak Challenge 2016 – hardly the sort of event deemed suitable for someone trying to lower her cholesterol! Having taking the precaution of eating a light lunch, I arrived peckish to the event in Hyde Park, where a magnificent sunset showed off the London skyline in a blaze of early Autumnal splendour.
Long before the steaks were slapped on the grill for guests to savour the outstanding meat that a panel of judges had been chewing over all day, we were treated to bite-sized portions of Japanese Wagyu beef. Considered the finest meat du monde, these mouthfuls really were the bees’ knees. With a texture more like butter than meat – due to the tenderness and fantastic marbling of the fat – I was in carnivore heaven, giving not a thought to my arteries. OK in honesty I felt a bit guilty about my arteries. But when one has the choice of another helping of a brilliant Wagyu tartare with pink peppercorns and a yuzu ponzu (a soy sauce and yuzu mix), well, I am not the sort to turn it down.
I was asked to answer a few questions about my experience of the different cuts of Wagyu. Most of the boxes to tick related to taste, texture, fattiness, appearance and healthiness. The last category surprised me and I responded that I did not think about meat in terms of health. But it got me thinking and when I returned home, stuffed with steak, I read up on what healthy properties Wagyu brings to the table for lowering cholesterol.
Wagyu beef has a high fat content and the fat has a lot of oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat and is the main fatty acid in olive oil. It decreases the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body while leaving the HDL untouched. As those watching their cholesterol need to lower levels of LDL while boosting levels of HDL, oleic acid seems to be doing at least half the job.
Now I am not prescribing daily eating of Wagyu beef, although once you have tasted it you may be sorely tempted – until the eye watering price tag is produced. Mind you, I heard a programme on the radio this week where a representative from Iceland (the store) said they are now selling Wagyu burgers for £3. Hmmm. What I am mindful of is that when eating red meat it is worth getting the very best quality affordable. I eat very little red meat in general and try to eat lean cuts if I do. Paradoxically, it seems that some fattier (and expensive, top quality) meats – like Wagyu and Iberico ham (which I have written about previously) seem to have increased quantities of healthy fats! And as these are some of the most delicious meats, in my view, it may just be a win-win situation so long as I don’t overindulge. Did I heed this advice at the World Steak Challenge? Of course not, it was all just far too delicious.