Chicken consumption has soared in recent years due to a presumption that it’s a healthier choice, but researchers now say that might not be so.
The assumption is that poultry, due to its lower levels of saturated fatty acids, would contribute to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Two recent clinical trials, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute have found there’s no measurable difference due to choosing chicken over red meat.
The report was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In this trial, the researchers compared the effects of red meat, chicken and vegetable proteins in diets containing high or low total saturated fatty acids (SFA). They randomly selected 177 participants and divided them into the high- and low-SFA groups.
Within each group (high versus low SFA), participants spent four weeks eating each of the three diets, with blood tests and a two- to seven-week “washout” period between each study period.
The primary outcomes the researchers measured were LDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein B (apoB), small and medium LDL particles, and total/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
In this study, LDL cholesterol and apoB were higher with red and white meat than with non-meat, independent of SFA content. The authors note this was due primarily to increases in large LDL particles, whereas small and medium LDL and total/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were unaffected by protein source.
These outcomes did not differ significantly between red and white meat.