Red Meat and Nutrition – Silver Fern Farms x Dr. Kelly Dale Case Study

By Silver Fern Farms

Red meat and nutrition – Silver Fern Farms x Dr. Kelly Dale Case Study

In 2021, New Zealand nutritionist, Dr Kelly Dale, completed a case study on the role of lean, grass-fed red meat as part of a balanced diet, using products from Silver Fern Farms’ grass-fed beef, lamb and venison ranges. This case study followed four groups of participants over a period of 12-weeks to ascertain whether replacing three meals a week with lean red meat was beneficial to their health. This was evaluated by blood tests taken at the beginning of the trial, and at the conclusion of the trial, which measured a series of key health indicators. These included lipid profile, iron status, Vitamin D and serum Zinc. *


  •        A 12-week localised trial including four different types of participants:

o   A female athlete

o   A working professional woman with a low-carb/keto diet

o   A family

o   An older couple

  •        Each week, participants were asked to replace three of their typical meals with three meals that contained Silver Fern Farms beef, lamb, and venison. This was the only change to their diet that they were asked to make.
  •        Participants were provided a 12-week menu and recipes specific for their unique needs (i.e., family, athlete, low carbohydrate, older age all received different menu plans and recipes).
  •        Blood-tests were taken at the beginning of the trial to establish a baseline (non-fasting) to measure lipid profile (total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL cholesterol and cholesterol ratio), iron status (haemoglobin, serum iron, ferritin, and transferrin saturation), Vitamin D, and serum Zinc. At the end of trial, participants had a repeat blood test to measure the same variables.
  •        Silver Fern Farms provided participants with high quality lean red meat for the trial.
  •        The trials sought to substantiate key findings from wider secondary research of national and international studies on nutrition and red meat consumption.
  •        A limitation of this case study was the sample size. Given this, results are not generalisable to a wider population.


Case Study Results**

On average participants lost 1kg and reduced waist circumference by 2.3cm over the case study. Participants also saw an improvement in their lipid profiles (reduced cholesterol).  


General Findings and Recommendations

  •        The results of the local trial were consistent with a growing body of research that indicates dietary advice to limit red meat is unnecessarily restrictive:

o   Large cohort studies have reported no association between eating unprocessed lean red meat and adverse health outcomes.

o   Lean red meats, such as beef, lamb and venison, have been shown to have similar impacts on LDL-cholesterol as white meats. They also have a relatively neutral fatty acid profile.

  •        The World Cancer Research Fund recommends three portions a week, with a total of 350 – 500grams of cooked weight a week. This amount of lean red meat, balanced with colourful vegetables, fruits and other unrefined foods, will add essential micronutrients to your diet.
  •        It is important to minimise processed red meat such as salami, bacon, ham and other cured meats because of their high salt and trans-fat content, which increases risk of developing cardiovascular disease.


Benefits of Lean Red Meat

Lean red meat contains a range of important nutrients that form part of a healthy balanced diet.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein that your body needs to build and repair muscle, produce structural tissue and hormones, and transport molecules and antibodies. Essential amino acids cant be created, which is why we need to seek out foods that are a good source of essential amino acids.

  •        Red meat is a source of ‘complete’ protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.
  •        It contains 20-24g of protein per 100g, which means it is considered a high source of protein.
  •        Protein helps to support a healthy weight as it improves appetite control, helping to control portion sizes. High protein diets are a proven method for preventing or treating obesity as it helps to manage appetite and energy intake.

Lean red meat also contains B12, Zinc, B Vitamins, Vitamin D and Iron – all of which are critical for good health and wellbeing. Both iron and zinc are more bioavailable in lean red meat than they are in other food sources.



During the trial the athlete was able to replace artificial sources of protein with real foods to support muscle development and recovery. Although she was recovering from an injury during the trial, she found that lean red meat was better at supporting her nutrition needs during her recovery and, in particular, helped her maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D.

Athletes need 30% more iron than non-athletes. An estimated 30% of male athletes and 80% of female athletes may be iron deficient. The athlete also noticed an increase in energy levels during the trial, which benefited her recovery sessions. 


Low-Carb/Keto Diet

The participant was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to follow a low-carb diet during the trial. The recipes meant that she was able to follow a low-carb diet while eating quality lean meat rather than resorting to processed meats, such as bacon or ham.

The lean red meat also enabled her to maintain good levels of iron, zinc, vitamin D and B vitamins – all of which have particular benefits for females.


Young Family

The young family were surprised by the versatility of lean red meat and was able to use it to cook meals that suited the whole family. They enjoyed how easy it was to cook lean red meat and also saw a reduction in cholesterol levels.


Older Couple

With busy professional lives, the older couple were focused on quick, nutritional meals that met all of their needs, which the lean red meat achieved. They were inspired to eat well to maintain their health and fitness for their jobs and for their family.

As people age, maintaining muscle mass is critical to reduce the risk of injuries and fall and to help adults maintain their quality of life. Complete protein from lean red meat provides vital nutrients for building and repairing muscle that are difficult to gain from other sources.


About Dr Kelly Dale

Dr Dale studied at the University of Otago and gained a BSc in Human Nutrition, a Bachelor of Physical Education in Exercise Prescription and Management, a Master of Science with Distinction in Human Nutrition and a PhD in Human Nutrition.

She has been published in a number of leading medical journals and has recently been involved in research focused on sleep, nutrition and physical activity. She is also the Managing Director of Healthy Lifestyle NZ.

Download the full study here: Red Meat and Nutrition

*It is important to highlight that the case studies were conducted to showcase regular New Zealanders from a variety of defined ‘groups’ including SFF products, it is not a formal study to compare changes in blood indices.

** Given the sample size, conclusions from this data cannot be generalised to a wider population.