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Contrary to popular belief, red and white meat have equal effects on blood cholesterol levels, according to new research from the United States.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and led by scientists at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (Chori), found that eating large amounts of red meat or white meat increased levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) – often dubbed “bad” cholesterol – present in the blood.

The study focused on generally healthy men and women aged 21-65 years, who were randomly split into two groups.

Volunteers were allocated to red meat, white meat or non-meat protein diets consumed for four weeks each in random order.

“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 and Chori senior scientist and Atherosclerosis Research director Dr Ronald Krauss.

Often associated with contributing to “bad” cholesterol levels, red meat consumption is generally recommended in moderation, while white meat, which is generally leaner, is usually considered a healthier alternative.

However, the study suggests that this may not be the case.

In fact, the results suggest that restricting meat altogether – whether red or white – could prove more advisable than previously thought for lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Indeed, the study suggests that plant proteins, such as beans, are the healthiest choice for blood cholesterol levels.

“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,” Dr 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.” – AFP Relaxnews

Note: This article was first published in Star2.

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