Eating too much meat is considered a risk factor for high cholesterol, which is a risk factor for hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Given all that statistical correlation, it's no wonder the public don't know what to believe about red meat.

But white meat is no better. This is a relief for cattle ranchers, who have been subjected to decades of claims that white meat is healthier and red meat causes heart attacks. The controversial French statistical group International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) even lists red meat as one of its hundreds and hundreds of things they can statistically correlate to cancer, albeit in doses up to 10,000 times normal levels.

In a recent trial, consuming high levels of red meat or white poultry both resulted in higher blood cholesterol levels than plant proteins, whether or not the diet contained high levels of saturated fat, which increased blood cholesterol to the same extent with all three protein sources. So if you believe that any cholesterol is too much, you will be disappointed. Cholesterol is biology. If you want lower blood cholesterol, plant proteins are the way to go, though soy has its own issues, such as being the only real endocrine disrupting chemical at realistic intake levels.

Credit: Jeremy Keith

This study, dubbed APPROACH (Animal and Plant Protein and Cardiovascular Health), found that consuming high amounts of saturated fat increased concentrations of large cholesterol-enriched LDL particles, which have an even weaker statistical connection to cardiovascular disease than smaller LDL particles. Similarly, red and white meat increased amounts of large LDL in comparison to non-meat diets. Therefore, using standard LDL cholesterol levels as the measure of cardiovascular risk may lead to overestimating that risk for both higher meat and saturated fat intakes, as standard LDL cholesterol tests may primarily reflect levels of larger LDL particles.

The red meat had no special marketing claims, such as grass fed or organic beef, nor did the white meats include fish. There was no bacon or sausage.