Posts tagged with "Nutrition"

Who knew? Steak and chicken affect blood cholesterol equally

June 6, 2019

Many people who are health-conscious limit the amount of red meat they consume, preferring to have white meat, because they believe it is lower in cholesterol.

Wrong. Contrary to popular belief, beef and turkey have the same effect on cholesterol levels, when saturated fat levels are equivalent, base on findings of a study published on June 4 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, News-Medical.net reports.

The study, led by scientists at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI)– the research arm of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland—surprised the researchers with the discovery that consuming high levels of red meat or white poultry resulted in higher blood cholesterol levels than consuming a comparable amount of plant proteins. Moreover, this effect was observed whether or not the diet contained high levels of saturated fat, which increased blood cholesterol to the same extent with all three protein sources.

Indeed, the lead author of the study, Ronald Krauss, M.D., senior scientist and director of Atherosclerosis Research at CHORI, commented, “When we planned this study, we expected red meat to have a more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat, but we were surprised that this was not the case: Their effects on cholesterol are identical when saturated fat levels are equivalent.”

Krauss, who also is a UCSF professor of Medicine, noted that the meats studied did not include grass-fed beef or processed products such as bacon or sausage; nor did it include fish.

But the results were notable, as they indicated that restricting meat altogether, whether red or white, is more advisable for lowering blood cholesterol levels than previously thought.

No surprise: The study found that plant proteins, such as beans, are the healthiest for blood cholesterol.

This study, dubbed the APPROACH (Animal and Plant Protein and Cardiovascular Health) trial, also found that consuming high amounts of saturated fat increased concentrations of large cholesterol-enriched LDL particles, which have a weaker connection to cardiovascular disease than smaller LDL particles.

Similarly, red and white meat increased amounts of large LDL in comparison to nonmeat 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.

“Our results indicate that current advice to restrict red meat and not white meat should not be based only on their effects on blood cholesterol,” Krauss said. “Indeed, other effects of red meat consumption could contribute to heart disease, and these effects should be explored in more detail in an effort to improve health.”

Research contact: rkrauss@chori.org

Avocado or Nutella toast? Here’s what nutritionists say

November 20, 2018

They are both mouth-watering treats that have been trending all year on social media. But which would you guess is the healthier snack?

Graeme Tomlinson— a 31-year-old UK-based, self-described “evidence-based [fitness] coach and nutrition geek”—recently posted two pictures of toast side-by-side on Instagram: one covered with Nutella; and the other, with half of an avocado. He asked his 156,000 followers on the site to choose the more nutritious “nosh.”

Tomlinson, widely known as The Fitness Chef, pointed out that we often “idolize” and “demonize” foods, which, of course, is not a great thing to do.

However, according to a BuzzFeed report on the experiment, he also went on to say that you might choose one or the other depending on your specific goals—getting more nutrients or eating fewer calories.

“Looking in factual objectivity, consumption of the former [avocado toast] means consumption of more nutrients, marginally more fiber and more calories; while consumption of the latter means …[fewer] nutrients, marginally less fiber, but less calories,” reads the caption, which got nearly 12,000 likes.

“Therefore,” said Tomlinson, “the avocado toast may be a good idea if the goal for that snack is to consume more nutrients, whilst the Nutella toast may be a better option if calorie reduction is the goal.”

People had some strong thoughts about comparing the foods based on their calorie content. As can happen on the Internet, the image was also tweeted out without the original caption.

And–lacking that caption—it was kind of hard to tell what the creator’s point was, BuzzFeed said. It seemed to imply that Nutella on white bread might be a better choice than avocado toast, based on calorie count alone.

Others weren’t happy with the focus on a 13-calorie difference between the two—because, really, 13 calories are nearly meaningless.

However, a calorie isn’t just a calorie, Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian and board-certified sports dietician with practices in New York and Los Angeles told BuzzFeed in an email.”Let’s say the bread was identical, so we’re just comparing avocado to Nutella. One is whole food nourishment, and the other is a processed treat, even if they provide the same number of calories.”

Indeed, Sass pointed out, avocado has 20 important nutrients and provides antioxidants and health-protective fat. Conversely, Nutella contains more additives — including sugar—than it does hazelnuts.

“Comparing these two is like comparing one cup of fresh blueberries (85 calories) to 10 gummy bears (85 calories),” she told the news outlet. “Even at the same calorie level the impact on your health is very different.

“As a nutritionist, I don’t like to see food demonized,” Keri Gans, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York remarked during a BuzzFeed interview. “I think that when you are making food choices you should be thinking ‘This might be a healthier choice,’ or ‘This might be better for me,’but there is also room for foods that might not be so nutritious for you. And that’s ok. We are trying to move away from the mentality and the association of food with guilt.”

Gans simply would recommend that if you’re making toast—with anything on it—that you try to choose 100% whole grain because of the fiber and nutrients.

Research contact: theresa.tamkins@buzzfeed.com