CLIMB stands for Complex lipids for enhanced metabolic health. We're trying to find out whether eating high-quality beef can help to protect against heart disease.


This study is investigating whether eating grass-fed Waygu beef over two months can improve the complex fats stored in the blood which protect against heart disease, compared to grain-fed beef or vegetarian alternatives.

We’re looking for heavier men aged 35-55 years who have slightly high cholesterol, but are otherwise healthy, who are not vegan or vegetarian, and who are consuming red meat in their regular diet.    

What is the aim of this study?

This study aims to look at whether the complex lipids in beef are absorbed and stored by the body, and whether this has an effect on biomarkers of cardiovascular (heart) disease risk. We will compare diets including either NZ grass-fed Waygu beef, grain-fed commercial beef or vegetable-based meat alternatives to understand its impact on cholesterol and overall metabolism, including changes to the gut microbiome.

If you take part, you’ll learn more about your own body’s responses to red meat or meat alternatives. You’ll also be compensated for your time and effort.

Why is this study important?

Meat from grass-fed animals contains many complex lipids (fats) that are important for overall health. Some of these complex lipids, like the omega-3s EPA, DHA, and DPA, are particularly important for heart health, and for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by improving blood lipids (e.g. cholesterol).

Some of these lipids are also digested by the gut microbiome (naturally occurring microorganisms in the human intestine), and may affect heart disease risk. As red meat is part of many New Zealanders’ diets, more research is needed to understand whether the complex lipids in red meat affect markers of heart disease, including blood lipids and the activity of the gut microbiome.

Who can take part?

We are looking for:

  • healthy men aged 35-55 years
  • with a BMI between 25-35 kg/m2
  • higher cholesterol (we will test this for you)
  • no history of heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, or metabolic disease 
  • who are willing to give blood, urine and stool samples

You can take part if you are not vegan or vegetarian and you consume red meat in your regular diet. If this sounds like you, please complete the confidential screening questionnaire.

What does the study involve?

This study will involve an assessment of your cardiovascular and metabolic health over the course of eight weeks. This includes one screening visit, two clinical visits and three check-in visits at our Clinical Research Unit in Grafton.

Between the visits, you will be asked to follow a diet that includes one of the different meat or meat alternatives three times a week for eight weeks. All meat or meat alternative is provided for the full 8 weeks. You will need to cook them yourself, but we will provide lots of serving suggestions.

Blood, urine and stool samples will be used to assess the metabolic changes. You will need to fast overnight before the clinical visits.

How do I enrol?

To ask a question or to enrol in this study, please contact the study coordinators, Amber Milan, Sarah Mitchell and Utpal Prodhan on or call 09 923 1151.

This study has been approved by The Southern Health and Disability Ethics Committee on 28/05/2018. Reference Number 18/STH/104.

This study is funded jointly through the National Science Challenges High Value Nutrition to AgResearch and in partnership with Firstlight Foods Limited.