– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – White meat has the same effect on blood cholesterol levels as red meat, researchers have discovered.
It has long been believed that consuming red meat is worse for a person’s cholesterol than white poultry, so scientists at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), the research arm of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, were surprised when their study showed that consuming high levels of red meat or white poultry resulted in higher blood cholesterol levels than consuming a comparable amount of plant proteins.
“When we planned this study, we expected red meat to have a more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat, but we were surprised that this was not the case – their effects on cholesterol are identical when saturated fat levels are equivalent,” said study senior author Ronald Krauss, senior scientist and director of Atherosclerosis Research at CHORI.
This effect was observed regardless of whether the diet contained high levels of saturated fat, which increased blood cholesterol to the same degree across all three sources of protein.
Krauss said their study is the first comprehensive comparison of the effects of red meat, white meat and non-meat proteins on blood cholesterol, a waxy substance found in the blood. High levels can increase the risk of heart disease.
The results indicated that restricting meat altogether, despite it being red or white, is best for lowering levels. Non-meat proteins such as vegetables, dairy and legumes, such as beans, show the best cholesterol benefit.
“Our results indicate that current advice to restrict red meat and not white meat should not be based only on their effects on blood cholesterol,” Krauss said. “Indeed, other effects of red meat consumption could contribute to heart disease, and these effects should be explored in more detail in an effort to improve health.”
The meats analysed did not include fish, grass-fed beef, or processed products such as bacon or sausage.
Full study results have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.