White meat raises “bad” cholesterol levels just like red meat

In the journals

Published: September, 2019

Eating large amounts of red meat can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, but new research suggests you should curb your intake of white meat, too. The findings were published online June 4, 2019, by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers randomly assigned 113 healthy adults, ages 21 to 65, to follow a four-week diet with high levels of either red meat, white meat (chicken and turkey), or plant-based protein (such as nuts, whole grains, soy products, and legumes). Afterward, LDL levels in the high-red-meat diet group rose, as predicted, but the researchers found that high levels of poultry had the same effect on LDL levels as red meat.

In comparison, people in the plant-protein group saw their LDL levels drop by about 7%. The researchers cited the diet's phytosterols (plant chemicals), which can lower cholesterol levels, as the most likely reason. They concluded that reducing your intake of all meat — red and white — and eating more plant proteins may be the best approach for managing LDL levels.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.