Cholesterol and Animal Protein
Should you cut out animal based proteins if trying to lower cholesterol?
The short answer is no, you don’t have to cut out beef, eggs, chicken, seafood or any other animal based protein source.
Now, allow me to give you a researched backed answer. Every animal based protein does contain cholesterol. Without rationalizing anything, if you have high cholesterol and need to lower it, then a person automatically thinks that they need to cut out all cholesterol based foods. Well, that is not necessarily the case. You see, when they studied those with high cholesterol, they only took a look at one variable: The animal based foods they were eating and they related it to the reason why that individual has high cholesterol. They ignored the fact that those same individuals were consuming high amounts of high fat meats and other saturated fats like butter, fast foods, chips etc. along with processed carbs. On top of that, they were also inactive. Hence, their entire nutritional and physical profile was promoting the high cholesterol not just the animal based products.
Unlike many former research studies on meat that did not pay attention to the difference between high-fat and low-fat meats, recent studies have looked at these types of meat and come up with some positive findings in regards to animal proteins. For example, did you know that when a moderate amount of lean beef (5-6 ounces cooked) is substituted for foods like breads and pastas and rice in the diet, there’s a slight decrease in the likelihood of inflammation and oxidative stress? Since unwanted inflammation and oxidative stress are risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, this research suggests that individuals who enjoy a moderate amount lean cuts of meats (including red meat) can do so without worrying it increasing their risk of these two potential health problems. Similarly, in recent research where two-thirds of all daily protein came from either lean beef, lean poultry, or lean fish, lean meats were found to help lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol-the bad cholesterol- as effectively as lean fish. (The lean fish did provide one health benefit that the lean meats did not, however, and that was the increasing of HDL cholesterol- good cholesterol.)
These lean meat studies stand in clear contrast to studies on meat in which fattier meats and processed meats are included. In those studies, the higher saturated fat content of fatty meats almost always shows a trend toward increased disease risk, especially coronary heart disease. The take-away message here is: You surely can include meats as part of a lowering cholesterol plan! Make sure you stick with lean cuts only and eat at a moderate level.
If you’re trying to decide between lean red meat (like beef round steak) and lean poultry (like skinned chicken breast), there’s evidence that moderate amounts (6 ounces or less) of both can work equally well in lowering LDL cholesterol level (if your LDL cholesterol is too high). In addition, although the evidence is not as strong and involves some mixed findings in various studies, there may be a potential for lean meats to slightly raise your HDL cholesterol as well.
So anyone with cholesterol problems can jump for joy of the good news that in moderation, you can enjoy a variety of meat options and get your cholesterol under control.