Do red and white meat affect cholesterol in the same way?

The high cholesterol It is one of the most worrying and silent health conditions today, it is usually associated with an increased risk of suffering from various cardiovascular diseases. It is a fairly recurrent and common condition in modern society, which in many cases it is usually related to the lifestyle of the people. Habits and customs such as following a poor diet, age, obesity, diabetes, smoking and sedentary lifestyle, make us much more prone. When it comes to diet, the high consumption of both red and white meat has raised many questions about its effects on heart health and cholesterol.

Today through numerous research works, we know that cardiovascular pathologies are characterized by a very complex physiology. However, experts affirm that one of the mechanisms that is most related to cardiovascular problems and high cholesterol is inflammation. This process increases the possibility of suffering from atheroma plaques.

Based on this, studies have come to light that seek to understand the relationship between the consumption of meat (whether red or white) and its effects on cholesterol. The first thing we have to say is that there are scientific references of great value in this regard. One of the most prominent is a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which was found to consume red meat occasionally it is not related to a significant increase in cholesterol levels or blood pressure. Nor does it increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the same way, an investigation published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, based on studying the effects of the paleolithic diet found that it is not harmful to heart health and is not associated with a significant alteration of the lipid profile. However, it is important to mention that this style of eating (people who regularly eat meat) is characterized by prioritizing the intake of proteins and fats through the consumption of products that have not been manipulated by the industry.

In fact, there are many current articles in which the myth about the relationship between the regular intake of eggs and products of animal origin is denied, with a greater risk of suffer heart attacks or cardiovascular problems. Today we know that for many years the consumption of this type of food was limited due to fear and misinformation. What happens is that not all types of meat are the same and by this we do not mean the animal from which the meat comes, what really matters in its effects on health is the feeding of the animals and the degree of processing of the meat. meat. A lean cut of meat from a grass-raised animal will never be the same as any variant of processed meat. Also a very important factor is the regularity of consumption.

Another very popular myth regarding meat consumption is the comparison between the red and white variantsFor years we have believed that red meat is more counterproductive for cardiovascular health and cholesterol. Recently a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition sparked interest when it reported that red and white meats have a similar effect on low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

The study examined whether cholesterol levels differed after consuming diets rich in red meat compared to diets with similar amounts of protein from white meat or non-meat sources (legumes, nuts, grains, and soy products). They also analyzed whether the results were affected by the amount of saturated fat in each of the diets, 113 healthy men and women, in a range of 21 to 65 years participated in the study. Each study participant was randomized to a diet high or low in saturated fat. Complementary to this, for four weeks and in different orders, They consumed protein from red meat, white meat, or non-meat sources. It is worth mentioning that all the foods consumed during the study were provided by the researchers (except vegetables and fruits, in order to guarantee their freshness at the time of consumption). Additionally, to reduce the chances that other factors could affect cholesterol levels, participants were asked to maintain their initial activity level and refrain from consuming alcohol.

The results of the study that was also published by Harvard University were overwhelming: white meat has the same effect as red meat on cholesterol levels. The study found that LDL cholesterol was significantly higher after consuming the red meat and white meat diets, compared to the meatless diet. Additionally, the researchers maintain that diets high in saturated fat had a major damaging effect on LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels than diets low in saturated fat. HDL, or “good,” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was not affected by the protein source.

The truth is that there is much research work to be done. It is also important to mention that the studies do not specify the effects of processed meats such as hot dogs, cold cuts, or bacon, which are known to be particularly harmful to heart health. Based on the aforementioned findings, health experts use these studies as a reference to encourage people to focus on consuming plant-based proteins.

In fact, in the same study, the researchers emphasize the beneficial effects of non-meat protein sources on cholesterol levels. They reaffirm that through the analysis of other studies on vegetarian or vegan dietary patterns, they found that the concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL and HDL are significantly lower than in those diets that include animal proteins.

Based on this, it is easier to understand the reasons why the most trending dietary recommendation is follow a plant-based diet. It is a lifestyle that is associated with great benefits for health and the planet.

It is not for nothing that the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines endorse how the healthier dietary patterns those of plant-based diets, among which the Mediterranean diet and vegetarian diets stand out. The good news is that for those who do not want to completely eliminate the consumption of meat in their diet, there are very viable eating styles such as the proposal of the Mediterranean diet in which it recommends the consumption of fatty fish two or three times a week. And red meat only on special occasions and as a complement. Remember to bet on the consumption of organic meats, they are those meat options that have not been treated by any process of the conventional meat industry such as the use of hormones, antibiotics and anabolics.

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