Turning conventional wisdom on its head, researchers have found that consuming red meat and white meat, like poultry, have equal effects on blood cholesterol levels.
The study indicated that restricting consumption of meat altogether, whether red or white, is more advisable for lowering blood cholesterol levels than previously thought.
The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that consumption of high amount of red meat or white poultry resulted in higher blood cholesterol levels than consuming a comparable amount of plant proteins.
“When we planned this study, we expected red meat to have more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat. But we were surprised that this was not the case — their effects on cholesterol levels are identical when saturated fat levels are equivalent,” said the study lead author Ronald Krauss, Professor at University of California in the US.
The study did not include grass-fed beef or processed products like bacon or sausage; nor did it include fish. The study also found that plant proteins were the healthiest for blood cholesterol.
Consumption of red meat has become unpopular during the last few decades over concerns about its association with increased heart disease. Government dietary guidelines have encouraged consumption of poultry as a healthier alternative to red meat.
But there had been no comprehensive comparison of the effects of red meat, white meat and non-meat proteins on blood cholesterol until now, Krauss said. Non-meat proteins like vegetables, dairy, and legumes such as beans, show the best cholesterol benefit, he said. (IANS)
Some good health news: Americans’ cholesterol levels are dropping, and more people at especially high risk are getting treatment.
Researchers say Monday’s report suggests a controversial change in recommendations for cholesterol treatment may be starting to pay off.
“It is very heartening,” said Dr. Pankaj Arora of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who led the study. “But there is more to do.”
Heart disease is the world’s leading killer and high cholesterol is a key risk factor — but not the only one. Doctors long treated patients based mostly on their level of so-called “bad” cholesterol, whether they had other risks or not. In 2013, national guidelines urged them instead to focus more on people’s overall heart risk, by taking into account age, blood pressure, diabetes and other factors. Those at highest risk would get the most benefit from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
The Alabama team examined records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that tracked cholesterol information from more than 32,000 adults between 2005 and 2016.
Among people taking cholesterol medication, the average level of that “bad” cholesterol — what’s known as LDL cholesterol — dropped 21 points over the study period, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It was declining even before the 2013 guidelines but continued to inch down afterward.
Total cholesterol levels and another fat known as triglycerides likewise decreased.
“These are surprisingly impressive results” that together predict a 15% to 20% reduction in risk of heart attacks and strokes, said Dr. Michael Miller, preventive cardiology chief at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who wasn’t involved with the study.
Moreover, there was an uptick in statin use by people with diabetes over the study period, from less than half to over 60% getting one. Diabetics are particularly vulnerable to heart attacks and tend to have poorer outcomes.
“It’s very important for those with a diagnosis of diabetes to not get that first heart attack,” said Dr. Neil J. Stone, a cardiologist at Northwestern University. He led development of the 2013 guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, and he co-authored an update last year.
Arora cautioned that other high-risk groups haven’t seen an increase in treatment — and that still too many Americans don’t know if they have a cholesterol problem.
The advice for consumers? If you haven’t had a cholesterol check recently, get one, Miller said.
Testing is easier than ever, as fasting no longer is required. Especially if you have additional risk factors, high cholesterol should spark a frank conversation about diet, exercise, and the pros and cons of statins. (VOA)