A new study has bad news for dieters monitoring their heart health: white meat has the same impact on cholesterol levels as red meat. The research comes out of the University of California San Francisco, where scientists found that consuming poultry in the place of red meats like beef and pork still resulted in higher blood cholesterol levels when compared to people who consumed plant-based proteins.
In popular dieting culture, white meat like poultry is widely viewed as the safe alternative to red meat, which has been strongly linked to certain cancers and long-term heart health problems. The newly published study reveals this is a myth — white meat was found to increase cholesterol levels even in diets with low levels of saturated fat.
The researchers called the findings surprising, saying they had expected to find that red meat had a larger negative impact on blood cholesterol levels. That’s not the case, however, with the effects caused by white and red meat described as ‘identical’ in cases where the saturated fat levels are similar. It should be noted that fish were not included in this assessment.
As with multiple studies before it, this latest investigation found that plant-based proteins were the best option for keeping cholesterol levels in check and thus help protect heart health. Individuals at risk of developing heart disease or who already have high cholesterol levels should restrict all meat consumption, not just red meat, the study indicates.
The news arrives amid a growing push for plant-based alternatives to traditional meat products, thought they largely revolve around red meat substitutes. Notably, fast food franchise Burger King has announced plans to offer the Impossible Burger nationwide, and Nestle is gearing up to launch its own plant-based alternative called Awesome Burger.