White or Red Meat? Maybe That's not the Right Question

Red meat has gotten a bad rap over the years. Even the American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake. But what if we’ve been unfairly favoring other types of meat over beef, lamb and pork? A recent study may have leveled the playing field.

Is chicken really better for you than beef? According to one study, it isn’t. Researchers compared cholesterol levels from diets focusing on three different protein sources: red meat, white meat and plant-based protein. Regardless of how much saturated fat the participants consumed, the diets that included both red and white meat caused comparably higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels than the plant-based diets. Other studies have shown red meat may cause increased cancer risks over white meat, so broader research is needed before we’ll know whether the two really are equally safe to eat. But this leads us to think that red vs. white meat may not be the right question to ask in the first place.

No Real Difference?

In a recent study, researchers at Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland examined differences in cholesterol levels caused by a variety of diets. Participants included 113 healthy men and women between the ages of 30 and 65, who were divided into two groups: One consumed high amounts of saturated fat and the other took in low amounts. Each group ate three strict diets in 4-week rotations, each with a different focus in protein source: red meat, white meat and plant-based.

The researchers had expected to see a significant difference in cholesterol levels between red meat versus white meat rotations. Much to their surprise, both types of meat led to similar increases in large LDL (“bad”) cholesterol deposits. Even more jaw-dropping, these findings were consistent regardless of saturated fat intake.

On the flip side, the plant-based protein diet caused lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, even when taken with a higher saturated fat content. Researchers believe this is because meats contain numerous other components beyond fat and protein that may affect cholesterol levels. It’s also possible that differences in vegetable intake could have made a difference since overall fiber consumption can be an important factor in managing LDL cholesterol levels.

Other Factors

These findings might look great for red meat, but don’t get too excited just yet. We might not be affecting our cholesterol levels much by choosing red meat over white, but we could still be increasing certain cancer risks. The World Cancer Research Fund warns that eating red meat can contribute to colorectal cancer and other health issues, recommending we limit portion sizes and try to keep the cuts lean.

Given that the jury is still out on meat, it can't hurt to throw in a few meatless days per week and work to lower cholesterol by increasing fiber intake. We're working to make sure to include plenty of whole grains, fruits and veggies as regular characters on our plates — sources of fiber that can help balance cholesterol — and seeing if we can go meatless once or twice a week. Meanwhile, we'll keep an eye on the latest research for all of us.

Copyright 2019, Wellness.com

7/30/2022 4:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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I cannot afford either. When you are a senior citizen, you are lucky to get a TV dinner. They treat senior citizens like dirt. Their pensions don't keep up with today's costs. I go to Wendy's alot so I can afford a hamburger. Companies like it when old people pass away. We are too "needy". It is a joke if you think you are rich enough to get steak. Most days I can only afford cereal.
Posted by Connie Goldhahn
i will never ever believe that red meat is unhealthy. Also, I never believed that whole eggs were unhealthy. Actually at least one or more whole eggs every day are essential to good health; and beef at least ionce a week is is also essential. Obviously and logicvally, eating large amounts of beef every day would be very unhealthy. We all need to eat a lof home grown and or organic veggies every day and at least one whole egg. We should use natural sea salt and eat avlot of home cooked fat free beans. Eating beef once a week is very healthy. A vegetarian diet is not healthy. I am 85, healthy, strong, med free, and pain free. i know what I am talking about.
Posted by Bobbie Sena
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