Should Doctors Discourage the Consumption of White Meat?

While many nutritional experts and healthcare providers discourage the consumption of red meat, a new study suggests eating white meat may have similar negative effects on the body when compared to a plant-based diet. 

In one study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 113 healthy men and women, aged 21 through 65, participated. These people were assigned to consume either a high or low saturated fatty acid diet. They were further directed to consume either a red meat, white meat, or plant-based protein diet in random order over four weeks. 

Results showed that those with higher intakes of red meat or white meat tended to have increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL), often called “bad” cholesterol, and also elevated apolipoprotein B (apoB) levels compared with those who consumed plant-based protein sources. Since apoB lipoproteins are rich in cholesterol, increased amounts are associated with atherosclerotic (plaque-forming) cardiovascular disease – obviously not desirable. In addition, too much LDL cholesterol in blood is one of the primary factors for the development atherosclerosis, a term that describes the build-up of plaque on the walls of arteries. While the study results were consistent with earlier findings, researchers say the findings were unexpected.

“I was surprised by the results,” said lead study author Ronald M. Krauss, MD, senior scientist and director of Atherosclerosis Research and Dolores Jordan Endowed Chair at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland in California. “Until now, no one has performed a systematic comparison of the effects of red meat, white meat, and non-meat sources of protein on cholesterol levels in diets where other major nutrients were kept constant, and where saturated fat intake was controlled and tested at high and low levels of intake.” 

Researchers believe this new information can help educate people about how important it is to cut back on both red meat and white meat intake and instead, favor plant-based proteins to ensure better heart health.