White meat, red meat and cholesterol levels


Many people prefer white meat to red thinking that white meat is less likely to lead to high cholesterol levels. But when it comes to cholesterol, there can be little difference between the two.

A new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, randomized 113 healthy adults, ages 21 to 65, into one of two dietary programs. The first consumed a diet high in saturated fats, 25% of energy from proteins from three different sources for four weeks: red meat, white meat and non-meat (vegetables and some dairy products). The second followed the same three-part program under a diet low in saturated fat.

As might be expected, diets high in saturated fat resulted in an increase in LDL (or "bad" cholesterol) compared to diets low in fat. And both meat-based diets resulted in higher LDL and total cholesterol levels than vegetable-based diets.

However, in programs with high or low saturated fat, red meat and white meat produced the same levels of LDL and total cholesterol. Adhering to white meat did not offer any benefit.

"The study is particularly useful for people who are looking to reduce LDL," said lead author Ronald M. Krauss, principal investigator at the Children's Institute Oakland Research Institute. "It does not talk about the health effects of red and white meat, which are more complicated than the only effect on LDL."


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