Should We Tell Patients to Limit White Meat Intake, Too?
Although current dietary guidelines encourage limiting red meat intake in favor of white meat, a study suggests that diets high in either red or white meat may have similar lipid and lipoprotein effects compared with diets high in plant-based proteins.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was a randomized clinical trial including 113 generally healthy men and women aged 21 to 65 years with a body mass index of 20 to 35 kg/m2. Participants were randomly assigned to either high or low saturated fatty acid dietary patterns, and were further directed to consume red meat, white meat, and nonmeat protein diets in random order over the course of 4 weeks each.
Researchers found that individuals with higher intakes of red and white meat tended to have increased LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB) levels compared with those who consumed primarily non-meat protein sources.
Also of note, the results suggested that individuals with a high intake of saturated fatty acids had elevated LDL cholesterol levels, apoB levels, and large LDL particles compared with those who consumed low amounts of saturated fatty acids.
Consultant360 discussed these findings further with lead study author Ronald M. Krauss, MD, senior scientist and director of Atherosclerosis Research and Dolores Jordan Endowed Chair at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland in California. Dr Krauss shared important key takeaways of the study, including what dietitians and related clinicians can recommend to patients.
Consultant360: Were you surprised to find that white meat has similar lipid and lipoprotein effects compared with red meat, given that dietary guidelines recommend consuming poultry and seafood over red meat?
Dr Krauss: I was surprised by the results, though they are consistent with some earlier findings. However, until now, no one has performed a systematic comparison of the effects of red meat, white meat, and non-meat sources of protein on cholesterol levels in diets where other major nutrients were kept constant, and where saturated fat intake was controlled and tested at high and low levels of intake.
C360: What types of white meat did participants consume, and could this have affected the outcome?
Dr Krauss: In this trial, white meat sources were primarily white poultry meats that were low in fat. No fried or otherwise high-fat sources of white meat were included.
C360: Are there any limitations to these findings regarding study population? Does more research need to be done before broad applications can be made?
Dr Krauss: This trial included 113 healthy men and women with cholesterol levels in the normal range, but the cholesterol effects we observed in this cohort should be applicable to individuals with higher LDL cholesterol who are attempting to lower LDL levels through diet. It is important to point out that there were a wide range of LDL responses, with some individuals demonstrating a much larger change than the average, and some in the opposite direction. Any individuals who wants to learn whether poultry intake is affecting their LDL levels can do so after limiting intake for several weeks and seeing how this impacts their LDL values.