When it comes to raising cholesterol, white meat is just as bad as red

A new study published on June 4, 2019 in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that eating more white meat like chicken or turkey makes no less difference than red meat when it comes to the raising of cholesterol levels in our bodies.

A study of 113 healthy people were randomly put into groups who were assigned to be on diets that were either low or high in saturated fats. The study called, Animal and Plant Protein and Cardiovascular Health (APPROACH) was conducted by researchers at the Children’s Hospital, Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) in California.

Dr. Ronald Krauss, a senior scientist and director of atherosclerosis research with CHORI says that when they planned the study their expectations were that red meat would have a more detrimental effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat. But they were really surprised that both red meat and white meat had identical effects on cholesterol levels when saturated fat levels were the same.

The study participants were cycled through through three different diets: red meat diet mostly of beef; white meat diet mainly of chicken and turkey; and a non-meat vegetable protein diet which consisted of legumes, nuts, grains and soy products. As participants switched diets, there was a ’wash-out period,’ in-between when they were allowed to eat their regular foods. Each diet period lasted four weeks.

Participants had blood tests taken at the beginning and end of each diet period a total of six blood tests. They also refrained from taking any vitamin supplements as well as drinking any alcohol during the length of the study.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are the ‘bad’ cholesterols which have been known to be found in fatty foods such as saturated fats which include foods like fatty beef, poultry skin, butter, cream and cheeses.

These bad cholesterols if too high build up in a person’s blood vessels which causes plaque and increases a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

The research team looked at the sizes of the LDL particles. There were small denser particles which have been believed to be more detrimental to causing heart disease and larger ‘fluffy’ particles which past researchers have believed to be less harmful to heart health. 

However, the International Atherosclerosis Society’s website says that both sizes of LDL particles may increase plaque build-up which is known as atherosclerosis.  

In this recent study, there were no significant differences in the amount of small or big (fluffy) cholesterol particles. But it was found that the ‘fluffy’ cholesterol particles showed up more in the white and red meat diets as compared to the plant-based diets.

So cut down on meat and add more plants to your diet. 

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