Does Poultry Impact Your Cholesterol as Much as Red Meat?

Key Takeaways:

  • A new study by CHORI asserts that both red and white meat may lead to increased cholesterol levels, debunking the common belief that only red meat is associated with high cholesterol.
  • While it was initially expected that red meat would have a more negative impact on cholesterol levels, the study found that the effects on cholesterol are equivalent for both red and white meat, when the levels of saturated fat are matched.
  • Both white and red meat was found to cause higher blood cholesterol levels than diets that include an equivalent amount of plant proteins, a fact that remained true even when taking high intake of saturated fats into account.
  • The most effective method for managing cholesterol levels is found to be incorporation of non-meat proteins such as those found in vegetables, legumes, and dairy products, into your diet.
  • The study’s findings suggest that current advice on limiting red meat over white meat should also consider other potential negative health implications of red meat consumption, which may increase the risk of heart disease and should be explored further.

Debunking the widely held belief, recent research appears to assert that both red and white meat may lead to increased cholesterol levels.

The study this statement is based upon was conducted by a team of researchers from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). This research is considered to be the pioneering comprehensive analysis which compares the effects that white and red meat have on cholesterol levels.

The association of red meat with heart disease

Red meat, for example, beef and lamb, has had a tainted image in the public eye in recent times due to its connection to heart disease. Consequently, several government-backed nutritional guidelines have recommended consumers to opt for poultry, touted as a healthier alternative, as noted by the researchers.

“Our initial expectation for this study was that red meat would have a more adverse impact on blood cholesterol levels than white meat. However, the results proved us wrong,” said Dr. Ronald Krauss, the study’s senior author. Adding, “The effects on cholesterol are identical when you match the levels of saturated fat.”

Krauss serves as the senior scientist as well as the director of atherosclerosis research at CHORI.

The effect of different proteins on cholesterol level

After tracking how red meat, white meat, and plant proteins influenced cholesterol levels, the research team led by Krauss discovered that both white and red meat cause higher blood cholesterol levels than diets that contain an equivalent amount of plant proteins. (The study did not consider other meat products like Grass-fed beef, fish, and processed meats such as bacon).

The observation remained valid even after factoring in a high intake of saturated fats. This suggests that the most effective method for managing cholesterol levels is to incorporate non-meat proteins into your diet, found in sources like vegetables, legumes, and dairy products.

“Our findings affirm the notion that current advice to limit red meat and not white meat shouldn’t just be based on their impacts on blood cholesterol,” Krauss signaled out in a university news release. “In fact, other implications of red meat consumption could amplify the risk of heart disease, and these factors need to be further explored in an effort to promote public health.”

The results of this study were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Additional Resources

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides further information on lowering your cholesterol.


Greetings from the trails and tracks! I'm Tim, but most folks know me as TJ. I've spent the last 5 years diving deep into the world of content writing, with a particular penchant for nutrition and the intricate science behind it. Every bite we take, every nutrient we consume, tells a unique story – and I'm here to unravel it for you.Beyond my keyboard, you'll often find me on a winding hiking trail or pushing my limits on a long-distance run. These pursuits not only keep me fit but constantly remind me of the vital role nutrition plays in fueling our passions and adventures.Through my writings, I aim to bridge the gap between complex nutritional science and everyday eating habits. Whether you're looking for the latest research updates, practical diet tips, or stories from the running track, I'm committed to serving you content that's as engaging as it is enlightening.So, lace up your shoes, grab a healthy snack, and join me in this exploration of food, science, and the great outdoors. Together, we'll journey towards better health and incredible experiences!
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