Red meat? White meat? Study says it really doesn’t matter

Eat nonmeat proteins to cut cholesterol

(Gray News) – Conventional wisdom says to eat white meat and shun the red.

During the last few decades, red meat’s association with increased heart disease made it an unpopular choice for many. Government dietary guidelines encouraged the consumption of poultry as a healthier alternative.

A new study published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows red and white meats are equally bad for cholesterol, one of the risk factors for heart disease.

“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 the study’s senior author Ronald Krauss, professor of medicine at University of California – San Francisco.

The bottom line is red and white meats are equal in dietary terms – lean poultry is the same as lean beef when it comes to cholesterol. Still, it’s good to remember that chicken and turkey tend to be leaner meats than beef.

But neither is as good as cutting out meat altogether and eating plant-based proteins instead, the study found.

There had been no comprehensive comparison of the effects of red meat, white meat and nonmeat proteins on blood cholesterol until now, Krauss said. Nonmeat proteins such as vegetables, dairy, and legumes, such as beans, show the best cholesterol benefit.

But there are other considerations, according to Krauss.

"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."

Consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes.

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