How do red and white meats fit into a heart-healthy diet? An internet search of the topic brings up many different articles, some of which offer conflicting recommendations.
Dr. Donald Hensrud, director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, explains whether you should opt for a steak or a piece of chicken when eating for heart health.
Is white meat better for your heart than red meat, or doesn’t it matter? Studies about this topic can be confusing.
“What we need to do is not look at the latest study and throw away 20 years of research. We need to put the latest study in context with what we’ve known for many years, and put it in the big picture,” says Dr. Hensrud.
Dr. Hensrud says the saturated fat content in meat is one of the issues.
“Saturated fat is the main determinant of serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol,” says Dr. Hensrud.
LDL is the bad cholesterol — a risk factor for heart disease.
“Saturated fat is usually higher in red meat than poultry and white meat,” says Dr. Hensrud.
Plus, he says there’s a chemical in red meat that’s converted to a substance that may increase risk of heart disease.
“And many studies have shown that red meat — and especially processed meat — increases the risk of heart disease more than white meat. So, in practice, I think it’s still desirable to: A, choose plant proteins; B, choose lean meats — whether they’re white or red; and, C, if given a choice, choose white meat over red meat,” says Dr. Hensrud.