Kiwi scientists hope to prove 'best meat' is good for you

New Zealand researchers are hoping to upend conventional wisdom and prove that red meat is actually good for your heart.

At least if you eat the really good stuff.

The University of Auckland's Liggins Institute has recruited a group of men between 35 and 55 to eat free meat three times a week for two months.

Prof David Cameron-Smith says the men have been allocated either grass-fed Wagyu beef, grain-finished beef or a vegetarian alternative.

"We're making a direct comparison against soy, so it's a vegetable alternative," he told Newshub.

The study is looking at how complex fats in high-quality unprocessed meat affect heart health.

Prof Cameron-Smith says Wagyu beef is rich in healthy fats.

"They have very high concentrations of omega-3 fats, and other anti-inflammatory fats that may protect you against heart disease - so that's where our research comes in."

Prior research hasn't brought good news for meat-lovers. While some studies have been inconclusive, many end up concluding the more red meat you eat, the higher risk you're at of developing heart disease and other conditions, including cancer.

Prof Cameron-Smith suggests that may be a reflection of the kinds of red meat people are eating.

"A healthy diet needs to have a range of protein sources - including vegetable protein sources - but if you are going to eat meat, make it the best meat."

The results of the study, funded by AgResearch and in partnership with beef company Firstlight Foods, are due out half-way through this year.

"This is world-first research, here in New Zealand," said Prof Cameron-Smith.