The bottom line is red and white meats are equal in dietary terms - lean poultry is the same as lean beef when it comes to cholesterol. There is less pressure on consumers to do the same with its white counterpart. The plant based diet had the best results on cholesterol, while the red and white meat subjects had almost exactly the same increase in saturated fat levels and inevitably, higher measures of LDL cholesterol.
Saturated fats found in foods including butter, cheese and cream, increased blood cholesterol to the same extent with all three protein sources.
According to the new study, plant proteins such as vegetables, dairy, and legumes, including beans, show the best cholesterol benefit as they had the healthiest impact on blood cholesterol.
During the study, which was led by scientists at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), more than 100 healthy men and women between the ages of 21 and 65 were randomly assigned to consume either red meat, white meat or nonmeat protein diets for four weeks. LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins and is often dubbed "bad cholesterol".
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If large LDL particles are less harmful than the smaller, denser particles, it's possible that a standard LDL cholesterol test may overestimate the cardiovascular risk for people who eat a lot of saturated fats and meats, the researchers said.
It also found that saturated fats' consumption at high amounts was associated with increased concentrations of large cholesterol-enriched LDL particles.
The new research had a few confinements; the meats in the investigation did exclude grass-nourished hamburger or handled items, including bacon or hotdog. Even though cholesterol is a waxy substance made by your liver and found in your cells, having too much of the substance in your body can cause it to accumulate in your arteries, increasing your risk of coronary heart disease. "So the result can be viewed as indicating either a cholesterol raising effect of both meats, or a cholesterol lowering effect of plant foods, or both", added Dr Krauss.
It's also possible that there are other factors about red meat that can affect cardiovascular health, he said.
"Indeed, other effects of red meat consumption could contribute to heart disease, and these effects should be explored in more detail in an effort to improve health".