Turning a conventional wisdom on its head, researchers have found that consuming red meat and white meat, like poultry, have equal effects on blood cholesterol levels.
The study indicated that restricting consumption of meat altogether, whether red or white, is more advisable for lowering blood cholesterol levels than previously thought.
The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that consumption of high amount 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 more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat. But we were surprised that this was not the case — their effects on cholesterol levels are identical when saturated fat levels are equivalent,” said the study lead author Ronald Krauss, Professor at University of California in the US.
The study did not include grass-fed beef or processed products like bacon or sausage; nor did it include fish. The study also found that plant proteins were the healthiest for blood cholesterol.
Consumption of red meat has become unpopular during the last few decades over concerns about its association with increased heart disease. Government dietary guidelines have encouraged consumption of poultry as a healthier alternative to red meat.
But there had been no comprehensive comparison of the effects of red meat, white meat and non-meat proteins on blood cholesterol until now, Krauss said. Non-meat proteins like vegetables, dairy, and legumes such as beans, show the best cholesterol benefit, he said.