It turns out that when it comes to your cholesterol, white meat is just as bad for you as red meat. Saturated fats, which come from animal products like butter, beef fat, and chicken skin, increase the concentration of “bad” cholesterol in your bloodstream. In the past, dietitians believed the high saturated fat content of red meat played a larger role in heart disease, yet until recently the theory had not truly been put to the test.
In a new study, more than 100 people between the ages of 21 and 65 were randomly assigned to high-saturated-fat or low-saturated-fat foods. All of the participants went through test diets of red meat, white meat, and finally no meat. Participants ate as they would normally during a “washout period” after each four-week test diet.
Blood samples taken from all participants at the start and finish of each test diet showed that plant proteins had the healthiest impact on blood cholesterol. These include proteins found in vegetables, legumes, and beans. Even more clarifying, the effects of white and red meats on the participants’ cholesterol levels were identical.
The researchers acknowledged that eating red meat over white meat may still raise the risk of heart disease, but their final message was clear: Plant-based protein is the healthiest option. This is far from the first study that has shown this. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that vegetarians are up to 32 percent less likely than meat eaters to suffer from hospitalization or death due to heart disease.
In 2013, researchers from Harvard found that increased red meat consumption is directly related to increased risk of diabetes, while another study revealed that a vegan diet could help stabilize blood sugar levels. In fact, the researchers discovered that a plant-based diet could even reverse diabetes. There’s more. Researchers at McGill University and McMaster University found that study participants who consumed the most fruits and veggies were 30 percent less likely to experience a stroke.