In Summary
  • In 2015, the World Health Organisation warned that processed meats such as bacon, sausages and ham can cause cancer.
  • Those who eschew steak in favour of chicken because they think it’s healthier may put lean beef back on the menu.

It turns out that the red meat or white meat debate is a draw.

Scientists now rule that even that piece of chicken you replaced your roast with will have an identical effect on your cholesterol level as eating red meat.

Exactly four years since science ‘declared’ that red and processed meat can cause cancer especially in Africa, a new research published Tuesday suggests that white meat such as poultry, have equal effects on blood cholesterol levels.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ‘surprised’ the researchers with the discovery that consuming high levels of red meat or white poultry resulted in higher blood cholesterol levels than consuming a comparable amount of plant proteins.

“I was surprised that the effect of white meat on cholesterol levels was identical to the effects of red meat,” said Dr Ronald Krauss, study author and director of atherosclerosis research at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

Saturated fats, most of which come from animal sources, include butter, beef fat and poultry skin, increase the concentration of “bad” cholesterol, in one’s bloodstream which can result to a heart attack or stroke.

“Our new finding was that the level of LDL cholesterol was the same with both red meat and white meat, and that the LDL level was lower with plant-based protein,” Krauss told a science website, Gizmodo.

According to the new study, plant proteins such as vegetables, dairy, and legumes, including beans, show the best cholesterol benefit as they had the healthiest impact on blood cholesterol.

In 2015 the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer warned that processed meats such as bacon, sausages and ham can cause cancer.

In its statement, the agency said there was enough evidence to rank processed meat in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.

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