Objective: Clinicians often recommend that intake of all meat, particularly red meat, be reduced in conjunction with a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This study was designed to determine the long-term effects of lean red meat (beef, veal and pork) compared to lean white meat (poultry and fish) consumption on lipoprotein concentrations in free-living hypercholesterolemic subjects consuming a National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Step I diet.
Methods: A randomized, crossover design was utilized. Hypercholesterolemic men and women (LDL cholesterol between 3.37 and 4.92 mmol/L) (triglycerides <3.96 mmol/L) (n = 145) were counseled to consume > or =80% of their 170 g/d meat intake as either lean red meat or lean white meat for two 36-week phases, separated by a four-week washout period of free meat selection. Subjects were instructed to follow an NCEP Step I diet throughout the study.
Results: There were no significant differences in lipid concentrations between the lean red meat and lean white meat phases. LDL cholesterol was 4.02+/-0.04 (SEM) and 4.01+/-0.04 mmol/L in the white and red phases, respectively; this represented a decrease of approximately 2% from baseline concentrations (p < 0.01). Total cholesterol also declined by 1% from baseline (p < 0.05), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol rose over the study period by approximately 2% to approximately 3% from baseline to reach concentrations of 1.37+/-0.03 mmol/L and 1.38+/-0.03 mmol/L in the white and red phases, respectively (p < 0.001). Triglycerides were not altered by treatment.
Conclusions: Consumption of lean red meat or lean white meat, as part of an NCEP Step I diet, is similarly effective for reducing LDL cholesterol and elevating HDL cholesterol concentrations in free-living persons with hypercholesterolemia.