Steak and eggs can be part of a successful low-fat diet, the government said last week, reporting how 12 men lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol levels during one meat and dairy-eating experiment.

The study, conducted by an Agricultural Research Service center in San Francisco, created menus that included red meat, dairy products and eggs, but contained only 25 percent fat. The typical American eats foods that are 42 percent to 44 percent fat.Twelve men stayed on the low-fat diets for six weeks. During that time, their blood pressure went down 10 percent and their cholesterol levels dropped 20 percent.

Rita Dougherty, ARS research chemist, said the reductions are in line with other studies on the impact of switching to low-fat diets but low-fat regimens often are "spartan ones that people have trouble staying with for very long."

For the study, Dougherty chose tasty alternatives to popular foods that often are loaded with fat.

"We served the same amount of red meat as on the higher fat diet but it was lean meat, with most of the fat trimmed off," she said. "We offered milk, but it was skim milk, not whole milk. We chose cheeses such as a low-fat mozzeralla in place of a higher-fat cheese like cheddar. And we used margarine in place of butter."

The volunteers, including six men with high blood pressure, ate diets that allowed red meat about four days a week, cheese several days a week, eggs about four times a week, and milk and margarine every day.

"These are the kinds of substitutions you can easily make at home or when you go grocery shopping," Dougherty said in describing the foods used in the study.