Although packed with protein and calcium, we were always told growing up that eating too much red meat wasn’t great for the cholesterol levels. So your parents told you to mix it up: more white meat – think chicken and fish.
Now, new research may have just proved your mother wrong.
New findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that white meat is just harmful as red meat when it comes to cholesterol levels.
Researchers from Atherosclerosis Research at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California investigated a potential connection between white meat and cholesterol levels.
The team, led by senior author and scientist Dr. Ronald Krauss, examined how consuming different kinds of meats impacted the amount of lipids and lipoproteins that can cause fatty deposits to clog the arteries.
For the research, male and female volunteers were split into two groups depending on their current diet. One regularly consumed high levels of saturated fatty acids while the other typically consumed low levels of saturated fatty acids.
The participants, aged 21 to 26 and with a BMI between 20 and 35, were then randomly assigned to either a red meat group, a white meat group or a non-meat protein diet group.
The participants stuck to those eating plans for four weeks. The diet, however, did not include grass-fed beef, processed meats or fish.
After measuring blood samples, researchers found that both red and white meat raised cholesterol levels more than plant-based proteins. Interestingly, raised levels of cholesterol was not associated with a high intake of saturated fats.
“This was due primarily to increases in large LDL (low-density lipoprotein) particles,” write the authors.
Non-meat protein sources such as vegetables, pulses and dairy proved most beneficial for cholesterol levels.
“The findings are in keeping with recommendations promoting diets with a high proportion of plant-based food but, based on lipid and lipoprotein effects, do not provide evidence for choosing white over red meat for reducing [cardiovascular disease] risk.
“The present study is the first to show that both categories of meat protein result in LDL concentrations that are higher than those resulting from vegetable protein sources in otherwise comparable diets,” conclude Dr. Krauss and his colleagues.