Patients with hypercholesterolemia are often counseled to limit or eliminate intake of red meats, despite evidence that lean red meats (LRMs) are not hypercholesterolemic in comparison with lean white meats (LWMs). The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term effects on serum lipids of incorporating LRM (beef, veal, and pork) vs LWM (poultry and fish) into a National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Step I diet in free-living individuals with hypercholesterolemia.
Subjects included 191 men and women with a serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level of 3.37 to 4.92 mmol/L (130-190 mg/dL) and triglyceride level less than 3.96 mmol/L (350 mg/dL). After a 4-week baseline phase, subjects were counseled to follow an NCEP Step I diet including 170 g (6 oz) of lean meat per day, 5 to 7 days per week. Based on random assignment, subjects were instructed to consume at least 80% of their meat in the form of LRM or LWM. Fasting serum lipid levels were assessed 4, 12, 20, 28, and 36 weeks after randomization.
After randomization, mean concentrations of total cholesterol (6.09 mmol/L [235.7 mg/dL] vs 6.08 mmol/L [235.2 mg/dL]) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (3.99 mmol/L [154.1 mg/dL] vs 4.01 mmol/L [154.7 mg/dL]) were nearly identical in the LRM and LWM groups (1%-3% below baseline) during treatment. Mean triglyceride levels remained similar to baseline values and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations increased by approximately 2% in both groups.
The NCEP Step I diets containing primarily LRM or LWM produced similar reductions in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and elevations in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, which were maintained thoughout 36 weeks of treatment.