Is White Meat Really Better For You Than Red Meat?

For decades, it has been suggested that leaner white meats are healthier than red meats, but new research has people swapping their chicken breasts for chickpeas. A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that, when based upon cholesterol levels alone, there is no benefit in choosing white meat over red for cardiovascular health. The four-week study comprised of healthy adults ages 21 to 65 were randomly assigned to a group; red meat, white meat, and plant-based protein. 

According to Medical News Today, the study showed that red and white meat had identical effects on LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, even with their regularly consumed saturated fats. Doctor Ronald Krauss (senior author) says the team was surprised with the results as they "expected red meat to have a more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat." The study also showed that plant-based proteins (beans and legumes) were more beneficial than red and white meats in regard to lowering cholesterol. 

The skinny on proteins

Given this new information, you may be wondering if your turkey burger is on the chopping block. According to Insider, the results of the study showed none of the groups had an alarming increase in blood pressure or glucose levels. Furthermore, with the study being small and isolated, more research is needed before making a firm decision. But when choosing solely between white and red meat, white meat is still considered healthier.

According to the American Heart Association, lean white meats, like poultry, contain less saturated fat than other meats. Chicken breast is still a great option, being a low fat, high protein meat with health benefits including building muscle and strengthening bones (via Verywell Fit). Fish, such as whitefish and salmon, is an even better choice as it contains omega-3 fatty acids which is healthy for your heart (via American Heart Association). The best choice, however, for lowering cholesterol and overall better health are plant-based proteins; lentils, peas, nuts, and beans (via Harvard Health Publishing).