For Immediate Release

Contact: Andrea E. Garcia, Touro University California
Associate Vice President, University Advancement

W: (707) 638-5272
C: (707) 704-6101
andrea.garcia@tu.edu

New Research Shows Red and White Meats Have Similar Effects on Blood Cholesterol

National Institute of Health Funded Research Finds Plant-Based Protein Diet to have Significant Cholesterol Benefits over Red and White Meat Based Diets

Vallejo, CA (June 11, 2019): While popular belief has held that we should consume less red meat than white meat, such as poultry, for heart health a new National Institutes of Health funded study finds that consuming high levels of red or white meat resulted in higher blood cholesterol levels when compared with consuming plant proteins, such as grains, legumes, soy and nuts. Investigators Dr. Nathalie Bergeron, Touro University of California (TUC) Chair of Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, TUC Research Scientist Dr. Sally Chiu, and Dr. Ronald Krauss, Director of Atherosclerosis Research at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute also found that diets with levels of high saturated fat increased blood cholesterol levels, regardless of whether the diet was high in red meat, poultry or plant-based protein.

“Our study is the first randomized controlled trial to compare the effects of red meat, white meat and non-meat proteins on blood cholesterol levels when saturated fat in the diet is held constant. Participants were placed in one of two groups – consuming either a diet high in saturated fat or a diet low in saturated fat,” said Dr. Nathalie Bergeron. “Within each of these groups, participants then ate diets based on lean red meat, lean white meat (poultry), or plant-based proteins. Our research found that when saturated fat levels are held constant, there is no difference in levels of blood cholesterol between red meat and poultry-based diets, both higher than when comparable amounts of plant-based protein were consumed.”

Participants in this study were provided with all the study foods, a design viewed as the “gold-standard” for nutrition studies.  This allowed researchers to better control dietary intake  and focus on how blood cholesterol is affected by commonly consumed sources of dietary protein, including high red and white meat diets. . Most notably, the study found that a plant-based protein diet, focused on legumes, nuts, grains and soy, was the healthiest diet for blood cholesterol showing significant benefits when compared with diets that included even lean red or white meat.

Drs. Bergeron, Krauss and Chiu’s research findings indicate that current advice to restrict the consumption of red meat and consume more white meat cannot be tied to their effects on blood cholesterol. “Heart disease is complex and LDL-cholesterol is just one marker of disease risk. Our findings showing comparable effects of red and white meat on cholesterol, suggest that factors other than blood cholesterol may be involved,” noted Dr. Bergeron. “Future studies could focus on other markers of heart disease risk, like how red and white meat affect inflammation or the gut/biome connection, to better understand the acclaimed link between red meat and heart disease.”

For now, Dr. Bergeron says that for most individuals, there is no need to entirely ban red and white meat from diet. She promotes a dietary pattern with an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grain products as the core components of a healthy meal, with lean red and white meat in moderation, when consumed. She cautions that their study focused only on healthy individuals, and that future studies are needed to determine how animal and plant-based protein sources affect individuals at greater risk for heart disease.

About the Touro College and University System:

Touro University California is a Jewish nonprofit, independent graduate institution of higher learning founded in 1997 on three Judaic values: social justice, the pursuit of knowledge and service to humanity. The university, home to 1,400 students, has professional programs in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant studies, public health, nursing, and education. Faculty, staff and students have a powerful commitment to academic excellence, evidence-based professional practice, inter-professional collaboration, and active engagement with a global community. To learn more, visit www.tu.edu or call 707-638-5200.