That ‘White Meat Raises Your Cholesterol As Much As Red Meat!’ Study Is A Pile of Chicken $#@%

You probably saw the headlines, like this one from CNN: white meat raises your bad cholesterol just as much as red meat!  It’s complete nonsense.  Here’s why.  Transcript is below.

Hello, I’m Tom Naughton and this is the Fat Head Report.

Believe it or not, it’s already time for another edition of Meat Will Kill You.

For more than 40 years, the experts have been telling us that to avoid heart disease, we should eat less beef and more chicken. And we did.

Well, now that they’ve decided we should all be vegetarians — to save the planet you know — it was only a matter of time before they started going after chicken.

Take a look at this headline. White meat is just as bad for you as red beef when it comes to your cholesterol level, study says.

The article is about a study where researchers put people on a diet that was either high or low in saturated fat, then had them take turns eating a diet where the proteins came from plants, or chicken, or beef.

And here’s what they found.

Plant proteins had the healthiest impact on blood cholesterol, while the effects of white and red meats on participants’ cholesterol levels were identical when saturated fat levels were equivalent.

Now wait a second. Beef is much higher in saturated fat than chicken. So how do you get people eating chicken to consume as much saturated fat as people eating beef?

Well, it turns out the researchers kept the saturated fat and the same by adding butter. It’s right there in the study. The diet based on chicken included more butter.

Which means this study doesn’t tell us anything about chicken. It simply tells us that saturated fat raises LDL. Doesn’t matter if the saturated fat comes from beef or butter.

Ahh, yes, it’s scary stuff. So the real message is to avoid beef and butter, right? Wrong.

You don’t develop heart disease because your body makes too much LDL. You develop heart disease because your body makes the wrong kind of LDL.

When your coronary arteries become damaged or inflamed, LDL shows up to repair the damage. But if your body is producing LDL that’s small and dense, then those particles can become embedded in your arteries and trigger the formation of a plaque.

Here are a couple of quotes from studies on LDL particle size and heart disease:

LDL particles showed the strongest association with cardiovascular events when the particle composition, rather than the total concentration, was investigated.

The LDL subclass pattern characterized by a preponderance of small, dense LDL particles was significantly associated with a threefold increased risk of myocardial infarction.

Large, fluffy LDL isn’t the kind that becomes embedded in your arteries. In fact, large LDL not only won’t kill you, it appears to be protective.

People who produce a lot of large LDL are less likely to develop cancer. They’re less likely to become depressed. They’re less likely to come down with nasty infections.

And that’s why a number of studies have shown that older people with high LDL Live longer than older people with low LDL.

So with that in mind, let’s go back to that study telling us that white meat is just as bad as red meat.

Yes, when people ate beef, or chicken with butter, their LDL went up. But that’s because they produced more large LDL. They did not produce more small LDL. It’s right there in the study.

So for me, the real take away message from the latest Meat Will Kill You study is this. If you like beef, go ahead and eat it. And if you’d rather have chicken, add some butter.

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45 thoughts on “That ‘White Meat Raises Your Cholesterol As Much As Red Meat!’ Study Is A Pile of Chicken $#@%

  1. Mel Bass

    I’m so grateful you dig into these things. I knew it was going to be a crap study when I first read the headline. Now you’ve dug into it to reveal just how crap it is. Chicken $#@% indeed.

    1. Walter

      That’s insulting to chicken feces. Properly handled they made great fertilizer. Studies like this are useful only to the “Save the Grains Campaign” (SGC”).

  2. Wayne Gage

    Oh no, white meat with butter is associated with heart threats…what about plant protein with butter. Now I can’t eat anything.

  3. Lori Miller

    Thanks, researchers, but eating three lettuce-wrapped burgers for lunch makes me feel 40 again. Now that I’ve joined the multitudes who have low thyroid, I can only imagine how a goiter-on-a-bun would make me feel.

      1. Lori Miller

        The lady at the hospital told me to eat whole grains and citrus fruit to get my cholesterol down. She didn’t recommend statins, so at least that’s something.

  4. Stuart

    No doubt you’ve seen the latest hype about a new paper just published in the BMJ:
    “Association of changes in red meat consumption with total and cause specific mortality among US women and men: two prospective cohort studies”

    As usual this is being publicised with the stock “Red Meat will Kill You!!!!!” Headlines.

    A brief look at the paper tells you it’s another observational study performed by the usual suspects – ie Walter Willett, nuff said.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Good grief, yet another slicing and dicing of data from the same two long-running observational studies. Willett is becoming a joke. Well, he was probably always a joke as a scientist, but it’s becoming more obvious.

    2. Walter

      “You can always tell a Harvard man, but you can’t tell him much.” I wish that that statement was original with me, but the origins are doubtless lost.

  5. Richard B

    I read Good Calories Bad Calories 10 years ago and told my wife “I bet this takes a decade to go mainstream”. Yet here we are and our institutions are still peddling this BS. Luckily many are not listening these days. When I read GCBC, I was 107kg. Now I am 93kg. Other indices track that change, in terms of general health. Watched and enjoyed your movie too, some time back then. Keep up the good fight, its appreciated.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The official experts are indeed slow to change, but the population is passing them by.

      1. Robert

        The Anointed will cling to their Grand Plans even when the evidence that they’re wrong is spitting in their faces. By the way, I was watching random YouTube videos and one of them was preceded by a Morningstar Farms ad, the company that makes various fake meat products. This was advertising fake chicken nuggets. I wonder what the Morningstar Farm version of a ribeye steak would look like. If it’s anything like their fake burgers, I’ll pass.

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Unfortunately, they’ll probably produce a chemical horror-show that looks and tastes like a real steak.

  6. Tom Welsh

    ‘White Meat Raises Your Cholesterol As Much As Red Meat!’

    So the message is: eat lots of white meat too! It’ll make you healthier.

  7. Tom Welsh

    Personally, I would be inclined to eat some butter with my chicken – if I were so misguided as to eat low-fat chicken breast meat, which I have avoided for at least 10 years.

    Instead we always choose nice fatty organic chicken thighs. Much tastier, and much better for us.

    Although I do insist on supplementing my beef, pork, chicken, nice fatty roast lamb and oily fish not only with lashings of butter – which makes green vegetables as good as chocolate pudding – but also with plenty of delicious aged cheeses and double cream.

    Oh, and chocolate pudding – made, of course, with dark chocolate, heavy cream, and a small amount of sugar or honey.

  8. Don

    I’m sure this has been shared, but it’s worth repeating. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”- H.L. Mencken
    And why would they do this? To preserve their power, prestige, and purses. They don’t stop with the menacing either. You will be asked to make a sacrifice, (your virgin daughter to the volcano god, your wallet to the global… climate change god, your meat to the heart attack god) so that you are vested in the cause. It’s harder to admit mistakes and turn back when you’ve got skin in the game. Of course the joke is, and Tom makes good use of, they are no longer the gate keepers of information they still believe themselves to be. If only everyone would learn The First Law of Holes…

  9. Cameron Hidalgo

    So we have :
    High-density lipoprotein.
    Low-density lipoprotein. Big
    Low-density lipoprotein. Small

    Is it right to say small LDL is more dense than the fluffy variety? Could we start a movement to rename it to:
    Medium-density lipoprotein?

    Also Thanks for providing the transcript.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      There are several subclasses of cholesterol. I believe a few of them are insisting on their own pronouns now.

      1. Tom Welsh

        Glorious, Tom! I am so plagiarizing that.

        Wilde: “Oh, I wish I had said that!”
        Whistler: “You will, Oscar, you will”.

  10. j

    Well based on that video, seems like BBQing themselves, while screaming that’s what animals go through, would be the next logical step.. In their minds

  11. Dianne

    Thanks again, Tom, for untangling yet another one of these studies for me. Instinct tells me these things are nonsense, but despite my dad’s best efforts all through my school years (and a remedial math course in college that I barely passed), I never gained enough skill in math to figure out why on my own. Wish you could have seen Dad’s double take when I complained that math just isn’t logical — I think something in my brain just sort of short-circuits when faced with a bunch of numbers. No doubt the perpetrators of these “studies” are counting on there being a lot of people like me reading them!

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I think they count on people not reading them at all. Certainly many media reporters just parrot the conclusions without looking at the data.

  12. Don

    We live in a post-truth world where you can pick your own truth and someone will sell you the means to further your delusion. Try pointing it out and face the wrath of the deluded and their enablers. Mother Nature will not be fooled, however, and the post-truthers have signed a suicide pact, even as they believe they are affirming life.

  13. Bengt

    Why all this obsession on cholesterol at all? I guess that it’s used because it’s easy to measure?

    My view is that lowering cholesterol is like banning fire trucks to reduce fires, or banning ambulances to avoid accidents. If you didn’t have the inflammations, the cholesterol particles would not have to mend them and get stuck, right?

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yes, it’s because cholesterol is something they can measure and treat with a drug.

      1. Lee Valentine

        Yes. And those drugs kill people.

        My advice to my kids is that almost no drug should be taken for longer than two weeks.

        That recommendation is based on 44 years of clinical experience.

  14. Lee Valentine

    Lumping all saturated fatty acids together is like lumping all people together.

    For that matter, it’s like lumping all fats together.

    All fatty acids have different physiologic effects, even the saturated ones.

    For example, the short chain fatty acids in coconut oil and butter increase intestinal permeability. You don’t want that.

    The short chain fatty acids are needed when you’re a small kid building your brain, otherwise, they may not be.

    Someone should write a book.

    1. chris c

      Plus, as Richard Feinman among other has pointed out, fats are metabolised quite differently in the presence of excess carbohydrate (where excess may be a fraction of what a dietician tells you to eat).

      Green hairy meat is dangerous but they don’t warn us about that.

  15. Morten Andersson

    Keep these videos coming, they are great!

    Wonder why we must eat a lower fat diet while our hearts oxidize between 50% and 90% fat, mostly palmitic and oleic acid for energy? And in heart failure people their hearts switch to oxidize glucose instead of fat, depriving their hearts of oxygen and ATP, the same state we are in before we are born because of a low oxygen environment, when we are born we switch to fat oxidation when oxygen gets more available.

    It makes no sens at all to eat a low/lower fat diet.

  16. Mike

    I recently watched a lecture in which Robert Lustig suggested that red might might be a bit worse for you than other meat because the heme increases oxidation load, but not because of the fat content. I find it amusing that one of the ingredients of the new-fangled fake meat that makes it taste like beef, is heme. So the fake meet contains the one thing that may be bad for you in real meat.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Yeah, I know he believes that. I think the jury is still out. Of course, if your LDL is 200, it takes far fewer large particles than small particles to reach that concentration.

      Dr. William Davis told me to drop the last number, and that’s what he considers the effective LDL. So my “high” LDL was made up 1137 particles, giving me what Dr. Davis considers an effective LDL of 113.

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