A university study has found what all meat-eaters across New Zealand want to hear - that eating red meat three times a week is not going to damage their heart.

The study was conducted by the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland as part of a High Value
Nutrition (HVN) National Science Challenge (NSC) project, led by AgResearch.

The research was co-funded by First Light - Hawke's Bay producer of 100% grass-fed Wagyu beef.

At a time where the meat industry is under scrutiny, Jason Ross from First Light said the company wanted to be part of the study.

"We had learned that our Wagyu beef had higher levels of Omega-3 than other beef, which is great for brain health," he said.

"We wanted to see what we could find out about heart health, particularly around the common perception that red meat is damaging to the heart."

The study took 50 middle-aged Kiwi men between the ages of 35 and 55 who were considered high risk for
cardiovascular disease, and put them through an eight-week clinical trial.

During the eight weeks, each participant was given a total of 500g of either grass-fed Wagyu beef, regular beef, or soy protein, spread over three portions per week.

The men were told to avoid other red and processed meats during the trial.

At the conclusion of the eight weeks, all three groups had improved their cholesterol.

The group consuming the 100% grass-fed Wagyu measured a cholesterol drop from an average of 7.0 to 5.5 mmol/L.

Ross said the results were great news for the industry.

Professor David Cameron-Smith, who lead the study, said the results would be presented at a science conference in Rotorua.

"Our research was to identify whether eating New Zealand grass-fed Wagyu beef for typical middle-aged males was detrimental to heart health," he said.

He said the meat was known for higher levels of fat and the researchers wanted to see if that fat impacted heart health.

"However, eating Wagyu three times each week for eight weeks had no negative impact on the risk factors of heart disease, including cholesterol levels and blood pressure," he said.

"Our research demonstrates that as part of a healthy lifestyle, enjoying premium New Zealand
grass-fed Wagyu beef is not detrimental to heart health in men."

Earlier this year First Light was voted as "producing the best beef in the world" by Forbes.

The article by food and travel writer Katie Chang gave the small company rave reviews.

Forbes has 30 million subscribers and more than 70 million visitors to its website every month.