White Meat May Be as Cholesterol-Raising as Red2

Image Credit: CDC/Debora Cartagena via Freestockphotos.biz. This image has been modified.

White Meat May Be as Cholesterol-Raising as Red

In light of recommendations for heart healthy eating from national professional organizations encouraging Americans to limit their intake of meat, the beef industry commissioned and co-wrote a review of randomized controlled trials comparing the effects of beef versus chicken and fish on cholesterol levels published over the last 60 years. They found that the impact of beef consumption on the cholesterol profile of humans is similar to that of fish and/or poultry—meaning that switching from red meat to white meat likely wouldn’t make any difference. And that’s really no surprise, given how fat we’ve genetically manipulated chickens to be these days, up to ten times more fat than they had a century ago (see Does Eating Obesity Cause Obesity?).

There are a number of cuts of beef that have less cholesterol-raising saturated fat than chicken (see BOLD Indeed: Beef Lowers Cholesterol?); so, it’s not so surprising that white meat was found to be no better than red, but the beef industry researchers’ conclusion was that “therefore you can eat beef as part of a balanced diet to manage your cholesterol.”

Think of the Coke versus Pepsi analogy. Coke has less sugar than Pepsi: 15 spoonfuls of sugar per bottle instead of 16. If studies on blood sugar found no difference between drinking Coke versus Pepsi, you wouldn’t conclude that “Pepsi may be considered when recommending diets for the management of blood sugars;” you’d say they’re both equally as bad so we should ideally consume neither.

That’s a standard drug industry trick. You don’t compare your fancy new drug to the best out there, but to some miserable drug to make yours look better. Note they didn’t compare beef to plant proteins, like in this study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. As I started reading it, though, I was surprised that they found no benefit of switching to a plant protein diet either. What were they eating? You can see the comparison in Switching from Beef to Chicken & Fish May Not Lower Cholesterol.  

For breakfast, the plant group got a kidney bean and tomato casserole and a salad, instead of a burger. And for dinner, instead of another burger, the plant protein group just got some boring vegetables. So, why was the cholesterol of the plant group as bad as the animal group? They had the plant protein group eating three tablespoons of beef tallow every day—three tablespoons of straight beef fat!

This was part of a series of studies that tried to figure out what was so cholesterol-raising about meat—was it the animal protein or was it the animal fat? So, researchers created fake meat products made to have the same amount of saturated fat and cholesterol by adding extracted animal fats and cholesterol. Who could they get to make such strange concoctions? The Ralston Purina dog food company.

But what’s crazy is that even when keeping the saturated animal fat and cholesterol the same (by adding meat fats to the veggie burgers and making the plant group swallow cholesterol pills to equal it out), sometimes they still saw a cholesterol lowering advantage in the plant protein group.

If you switch people from meat to tofu, their cholesterol goes down, but what if you switch them from meat to tofu plus lard? Then, their cholesterol may stay the same, though tofu and lard may indeed actually be better than meat, since it may result in less oxidized cholesterol. More on the role of oxidized cholesterol can be found in my videos Does Cholesterol Size Matter? and Arterial Acne.

Just swapping plant protein for animal protein may have advantages, but if you really want to maximize the power of diet to lower cholesterol, you may have to move entirely toward plants. The standard dietary advice to cut down on fatty meat, dairy, and eggs may lower cholesterol 5-10%, but flexitarian or vegetarian diets may drop our levels 10 to 15%, vegan diets 15 to 25%, and healthier vegan diets can cut up to 35%, as seen in this study out of Canada showing a whopping 61 point drop in LDL cholesterol within a matter of weeks.

You thought chicken was a low-fat food? It used to be a century ago, but not anymore. It may even be one of the reasons we’re getting fatter as well: Chicken Big: Poultry and Obesity and Infectobesity: Adenovirus 36 and Childhood Obesity.

Isn’t protein just protein? How does our body know if it’s coming from a plant or an animal? How could it have different effects on cardiovascular risk? See Protein and Heart Disease, another reason why Plant Protein [is] Preferable.

Lowering cholesterol in your blood is as simple as reducing one’s intake of three things: Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero.

What about those news stories on the “vindication” of saturated fat? See the sneaky science in The Saturated Fat Studies: Buttering Up the Public and The Saturated Fat Studies: Set Up to Fail.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

48 responses to “White Meat May Be as Cholesterol-Raising as Red

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  1. Just swapping plant protein for animal protein may have advantages

    Oops. Swap ’em back.

    What I mean is that generally, swapping A for B means to give A and get B.

  2. Hi Dr Gregar,
    I was vegan for 21/2 years. I felt great in the beginning but by the end of 2 years I started falling. My cholesterol was high but in limits. Now I eat meat. But have high cholesterol out of limits. Just got a reading of high TSH. Can’t lose wait. What do you suggest?

    1. Hi Neela, I’m one of the moderators for the NutritionFacts website. It’s hard to give specific advice for your question as I don’t know your exact situation. I can answer your question in general terms.

      I’m glad you felt great initially after going vegan, but what happened after 2.5 years? Did you possible change from a healthy, whole-food plant based diet, to more unhealthy, processed yet still vegan foods? If your cholesterol was “high but in limits” it may mean that you were including too much oil or large amounts of nuts, seeds, or other fatty fruits such as coconut or avocado. This is a common way the even vegans can have high cholesterol. Now that you’re eating meats again, this is likely the reason why your cholesterol went even higher and that’s making it hard to lose weight. Dr. Greger has plenty of videos that you can search if you need some more motivation or knowledge on how a healthy plant-based diet can help with weight loss and lowering cholesterol. I hope this is helpful to you.

    2. hi Neela, just a brief note to add to the terrific suggestions you received already. I am not a doctor, but, I watch my TSH closely. If it rises again, I will be asking my doctor for advice on starting even a modest amount of thyroid hormone to see if TSH levels come down, and symptoms decrease. It could be that your vegan ‘failing’ at 2 years was not because of diet but because of hypothyroid symptoms ? Just a thought to discuss with your doctor. Your cholesterol levels might decrease if hypothyroid issue is addressed . Fatigue, sore joints, achey feeling, are just some symptoms of hypotnyroid. Best wishes.

    3. Whenever I read that someone says they were vegan for x time, but are not anymore then you surely were never vegan to start with. You simply ate a vegan diet.

      The moral and ethical shift in realising the abhorrent way us humans treat the innocent sentient animals we share this planet with is not something I could ever go back on; nor could any of my vegan friends.

      Veganism is not a diet.

      Whilst I was plant based for 7 years it wasn’t until someone here on nutrition facts last January posted the following video that I finally made the connection and went vegan. Peace x


    4. Unless you consume sea vegetables daily the whole food plant based diet is very low in iodine. Others get the majority of iodine from dairy because they sterilize milking equipment with iodine. Before the 80’s they sterilized bread pans with iodine so insufficiency was very rare, also there were less goitrogenic environmental contaminants like bromide and flouride. It can take a long time to build up iodine sufficiency once you are low and TSH will go up before it goes down. If you supplement with iodine you also need selenium or you could get Hashimoto’s autoimmune condition. If you have Hashimoto’s take Selenium for three weeks first. You will want to have supervision of a health care professional. At least this is what I have gleaned from “the Iodine Crisis” by Lynn Farrow, “Iodine Why you Need It…” (With a grain of salt) by David Brownstein and other sources. I wonder if all of the kale smoothies and broccoli we eat raises our requirement for iodine. More studies are needed I think.

  3. Good point brec, editors should change the sentence to read ‘ swapping meat protein for plant protein’.

    There has been a fair bit of publicity about Jenkins and his portfolio cholesterol lowering diet here in canada. Articles in popular magazines and papers listed the various components of the diet, and I have incoorated some of the basic ideas within my own diet scheme. However, I have issues with the diet ‘as written’ because of problems with the foods used. Soy meat substitutes were used which are not the healthiest choice – some companies here still do not use organic soy in there products. They are not a whole food. They also used metamucil 3 times per day.. high in sugar and cost. The sugar free alternative is costlier still. Psyllium fiber from the health food store is much more reasonable, but ! oh my gosh, for some its an invitation to digestive bloating, blocking, pain no matter how slowly one introduces it to the diet. Other forms of fiber not employed by the diet seem to have fewer effects.

    Plant sterols in margarines were used also.. in my humble view, this is a very poor choice of products to use since many of us sit here with margarine (transfat) induced clogged arteries to begin with.. insult to injury. Plant sterols in supplement form are ridiculousluy expensive.. prohibitively so if a person goes for the 2gm per day suggested. Finally, they also used almonds along with soy for protein in the study. I am on my tablet, and can not pull the AGE content of almonds up readily, nor the very high omega 6 to 3 ratioo that almonds have.. I mention this since both these factors run contrary to advice give to heart patitents to keep 0mega 6 levels low, along with inflammatory AGE levels.

    For those that may be interested, here is one brief outline of the portfolio diet. http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/portfolio-diet-lower-cholesterol Forgive my rambling, but I just felt compelled to mention the few hitches I ran into. WFPB rules !

  4. This article is misleading. First of all cholesterol is a very old and obsolete theory.

    Secondly white meat is actually bad because it is muscle meat. What you need to eat is joint meat and even red joint meat is OK. Google for the differences between muscle and joint meat.

    For a rundown on fat, watch this video.


    1. I am really not in the mood for this today. Bob Harper of the Biggest Loser fame. Is a Paleo and CrossFit trainer. He just has a heart attack at 51 years old and after three weeks of being in the hospital is released. And he does an interview blaming his genetics. Does he think it had anything to do with his eggs for breakfast his beef for lunch and his chicken for dinner?

      1. One theory about why people who eat a lot of meat get heart disease is because they are probably eating too much muscle meat, which causes a methionine to glycine amino acid imbalance by depleting glycine stores in order to metabolize the methionine. This causes inflammation and likely heart disease. However, theoretically if someone balanced their methionine: glycine ratio, then they would no longer get heart disease. Balancing the ration can be done via multiple ways: get a glycine amino acid supplement, consume bone broth, and eat organ meats. I think that the methionine to glycine imbalance is somewhat responsible for the inflammation and health problems associated with meat.

        1. hi Adam, I read your comments with some interest since I look for heart healthy ideas to try out. However, when I looked up the richest sources for glycine, it seems meat products top the list. http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000094000000000000000-w.html Seems all you would need to do is keep a bag of pork rinds handy, and that would close the gap on any methionine/glycine imbalance.

          But! I think I would rather look at this another way, and think about lowering methionine levels. These videos of Dr Greger’s will tell you why http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=methionine&fwp_content_type=video Nothing, but nothing lowers inflammation levels like a whole food plant based diet. All the best to you and yours.

    2. I have to respectfully disagree… Everything Dr G presents here about cholesterols negative effects on health are backed up by good data and good science. I only see smoke and mirror style deception coming from the ‘fat is your friend’ camp. The video you linked to is a typical cholesterol confusion propaganda piece with the intent to misinform the reader about the dangers of cholesterol in the diet. Thankfully those of us on Nutritionfacts are well educated now and can see through the cholesterol confusionists attempt to muddy the waters. Dr G is where its at! Here is a great video that talks about how people with genetically lower cholesterol live longer…


    1. Kevin Geary: Actually, the evidence linking saturated fat and heart disease is extremely strong. To learn more about the science on this topic as well as debunking the information put out by cholesterol confusionists, I recommend checking out the information at the site: http://www.PlantPositive.com

      1. With all due respect, you’re not going to convince anyone with ad hominem attacks (e.g. calling people who disagree with you “confusionists.”). You also:

        1. Failed to counter the data I provided.
        2. Offered no data of your own (linking me to a general website is unhelpful).

        This is not how one formulates intellectual arguments.

        1. Kevin Geary: I gave you a reply that is directly parallel to the post you gave. You did not include any specific arguments. You just said that the evidence is weak. I disagreed. Then you linked to another site as your argument. I linked you to another site that provides the data needed to see through the information you linked to. My reply to you was as “intellectual” as your original post. If you want to learn more, you have the reference to do it.

          FYI: The entire site I linked to is filled with nothing but an incredibly detailed, scholarly look at both the science around the topic of cholesterol as well as looking at the claims by people who deny cholesterol’s role in heart disease. Every claim in every video on the Plant Positive site has references to the original research, including pictures of quotes from the original research.

          Since you find it unhelpful to be given a general website reference (though I do highly recommend going through the entire video series there from the beginning), here is a video on the Plant Positive website to get you started: http://plantpositive.com/18-cholesterol-confusion-1-pri/ .

          Also, NutritionFacts has an overview of some of the evidence linking cholesterol to heart disease. If you are interested, note that the following summary page links to individual videos, which in turn have a ‘sources cited’ button you can click: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/cholesterol/

          Good luck.

          1. Bob Harper is an uneducated barker who gives his clients bad advise. And the worse part about it is he knows nothing, but people listen. And Bob was a vegan! What happen? He decided he no longer cared about the animal.

            As you can tell this has sent me over the edge today. This is an opportunity for Bob to have an epiphany over all the harm he has caused!

            1. WFPBRunner: For your general sentiment about Bob: Yeah, it kind of blows the mind that he still can’t make the connection. And as you say, the problem is when people share their ignorance with authority and the public listens. There is a huge difference between honest disagreement based on equally valid data and a disagreement where one side is based on nothing but misinformation. It’s the false equality problem. At the moment, educating people on this topic is an uphill battle. Consider your participation on this site to be vital community/world-reaching service. That’s what I do! :-)

              1. Hi Thea I can’t even figure out how to edit anything on this new comment section. Can you just take Keven’s name out for me. Bob Harper has caused so many deaths. He is a barker. Can you leave that in? How do I use this stupid comment section?

                1. WFPBRunner: Argh. I thought you could edit your posts. I didn’t realize that you couldn’t do it. I’m not usually comfortable editing other people’s posts. I did it this time and hope you are OK with what I did. Comments on public figures have a different tolerance level than personal comments about the people who post here. That’s why I was generally OK with your comments about this Bob person (who I’m picking up is a public figure), but not OK with what you said about Kevin, who I think is just a private participant on this site.

                  re improvements to this new forum: My understanding is that there will be improvements to this new forum when the new NF site is released. I don’t know what the improvements will be, and I don’t know when the new site is rolling out. At this point, I’m trying to be patient, but I too am *constantly* frustrated with what we have. I can sympathize with the frustration of others and am praying that the upgrades will be significant.

          2. Then you linked to another site as your argument. I linked you to another site that provides the data needed to see through the information you linked to.

            Now you’re being disingenuous. I linked you to a very specific article with very specific arguments. You linked me to the home page of a website. You did not provide a direct rebuttal to the arguments I referenced.

            Now, you’re linking me to arguments related to cholesterol and heart disease when we’re currently arguing about whether dietary cholesterol increases lipid cholesterol long-term. Why the bait and switch?

            1. Kevin Geary: It’s not bait and switch. It’s all pieces of the same argument to me. I focused on the angle that people usually care about the most. It was an honest mistake that I missed that you only care about the link between saturated fat and cholesterol levels. Happily, Plant Positive also covers the links between saturated fat and increased cholesterol if that’s your only interest. Feel free to check it out! Here’s one article to get you started: http://plantpositive.com/blog/2014/6/28/how-time-magazine-sacrificed-its-standards-to-promote-satura.html . And here’s one video: http://plantpositive.com/siri-tarinos-meta-analysis-par/ There’s so much detail on that site, however, it is really hard to pick just one or two pieces. That’s why I referred you to the entire site. If you really want to understand the issue, I honestly believe you need to visit more than just one page. If you want the data, it’s there. It’s just not available in an easy 30 second sound bite/soft article.

              For that matter, NutritionFacts has some good data on the topic as well. You are welcome to look that up. Here are some videos to get you started. Note how the first few videos cover some of the ways that studies are set up to make saturated fat (falsely) look innocent. http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=cholesterol+saturated+fat&fwp_content_type=video

              As far as I’m concerned, your post consisted of a generic claim and a link to an article. I gave you the same back and then tried to accommodate you even more when you pressed. At this point, I have given you enough resources in these posts to learn about the link between saturated fat and cholesterol levels (and how people are being mislead) if that’s what you want to do.

                1. WFPBRunner: I too generally appreciate Vegetater’s participation on this site! In this case, if I’m thinking of the comment you are referring too, I agonized over it, but eventually felt that the comment crossed the line. It was a particularly tough call, but I sadly felt I had to delete it. :-(

                  1. She must be in the same mood I am in today!

                    But on to some good news. My niece Angela (Hi Angela) has gone WFPBed! We are so excited for her. In 5 weeks she has lost 26 pounds. Can you believe it?! She is listening to every book she can get her hands on-starting with How Not To Die-of course! And following Dr. Fuhrman’s suggestions to perfection! I am so happy for her transformation. As you know Thea we have serious heart disease in our family! Yeah Angela!

                    1. WFPBRunner: That’s fabulous news!!! You go Angela! Good for Angela, but also good for you, Ms. WFPBRunner, for what I’m sure was a whole lot of support and encouragement. :-)

                      I love stories like this. It really keeps me going. Thanks so much for adding brightness to today.

        2. Kevin what specifically would you like to better understand? Go to the top of the website and go to that particular topic. You seem to have questions about CAD. Read the research articles that are linked to each video. If you can’t understand them ask for help. Many people unable to break them down so I understand your confusion.


    3. Thanks for your comment Kevin.

      Saturated seems to be one of the most controversial topics in nutrition but it is very important that we understand what the evidence states. Here is a 2016 published review of Professor Frank Hu entitled “Saturated fat and heart disease: The latest evidence” and I quote:

      Although media headlines may have clouded the saturated fat picture, it may be because some 60 years of human trials and obser- vational studies perhaps do not appear, at first glance, to support a direct link between saturated fat and CHD, despite vast amounts of mechanistic research supporting the deleterious effects of saturated fats on the heart.

      The lack of association between satu- rated fat and CHD in observational studies does not mean saturated fat is benign; it simply means that high saturated fat diets and high refined carbohydrate diets are equally detrimental to heart health


      Given the mechanisms briefly discussed above, human studies that have specifically compared saturated fat with unsaturated fats illus- trate more clearly the effects of saturated fats on CHD and related risk factors. For example, a 2010 meta-analysis of eight trials that specifically examined the effects of replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats on risk of heart disease concluded that repla- cing 5% of energy from saturated fat intake with equivalent amounts of polyunsaturated fat resulted in a 10% lower risk of heart disease [5]. Similarly, results of a 2003 meta-analysis of 60 trials showed that the total:HDL cholesterol ratio was improved (i.e., lower) when unsaturated fatty acids replaced saturated fatty acids [4]. In our recent research, in which we followed over 127,000 American men and women for up to 30 years, we also observed beneficial effects on CHD risk of replacing saturated fat with unsa- turated fats. We found that replacing 5% of energy from saturated fat with equivalent amounts of poly- or monounsaturated fats re- duced CHD risk by 25% and 15%, respectively, in these men and women

      given that for the last 30–40 years, carbohydrate intake in the US and Europe has been dominated by refined and/or sugar-based carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, cola), the comparison between these carbohydrates and saturated fat simply be- comes a question of which is the lesser evil. To that question, the answer almost universally observed is that there is no association between saturated fat and heart disease, when compared to total carbohydrates. This misleading comparison lies at the heart of the confusion about saturated fat today


      Please note that Professor Hu is from the Department of Epidemiology, T.H. Chan School of Public Health
      and professor, Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. Therefore, a respected entity in science.

      Hope this answer helps.

    4. “It would appear that the evidence for saturated fat raising blood cholesterol is extremely weak”

      And nope… Actually, the evidence for saturated fat and diatary cholesterol raising blood cholesterol is very strong. It’s so strong that we have an equasion for it… called the hegsted equasion.

      Read all about it here ~~~> http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-set-up-to-fail/

      Did you heard about Bob Harper? The Vegan fitness guru who turned his back on Dr Gs science and went on a high-fat paleo diet and had a heart attack just like the other guy on “Mark’s daily apple” who did the same thing… Eat high fat and have a heart attack. The take home message? Stick with Dr Gs advice and dump the unhealthy low carb-high-fat nonsense.

      1. Veggie Eric: Doh! I forgot about the Hegsted equation. Thanks for the reminder!!

        Also, we don’t have the up-vote feature any more, so I’ll just say: Great posts today. Thank you for your participation!

        1. Thea: Thanks Thea! I guess I’m in the same mood as a few other folks around today. Not in the mood for the cholesterol army right now. lol! Nice to be back around. =)

  5. Hi Dr. Greger,

    I have a question which I can’t seem to find a sufficient answer to, at least at nutritionfacts.org. I’m an intern in a large university hospital in the south of Germany and have just finished a rotation in cardiology. I’m convinced by the evidence, largely thanks to nutritionfacts.org, that a plant-based diet prevents and in some cases reverses atherosclerosis. However, what do people, who have been adherent to a plant-based diet their whole lives (in my case from my early 20s), actually die of? I have seen many patients mainly between the ages of 50 and 90 die of the consequence of the leading ‘killer diseases’ (heart disease, cancer,etc) I cannot imagine what people would largely die of without the ‘environmental risk factor’ of animal produce. In your book you write about ‘How Not to Die’ but surely there is always a certain cause of death?

    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks for your question.

      According to the Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it is clear that:

      Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity

      However, as it states, they are only at reduced risk, it does not mean they are free of every chronic disease. The position statement also points out that these populations have a reduced risk of such diseases because of:

      Low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds (all rich in fiber and phytochemicals) are characteristics of vegetarian and vegan diets that produce lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and better serum glucose control.

      Therefore, if a vegetarian or vegan has been eating high amounts of processed food high in saturated fat, trans fat and refined sugar, it is likely that they health will suffer, especially if they have a sedentary lifestyle.

      In line with this thought, there is a great article that points this out:

      No, veganism is not a cure-all diet“.

      Hope this answer helps.

  6. I’m not convinced of the hoo-hah over cholesterol, especially where government recommendations are concerned (remember the food pyramid where carbohydrates are at the bottom? What did that get us? Increased incidence of diabetes). Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for brain function (yes, we really are fat-heads where cholesterol fits into the picture) and this issue is not cholesterol, but the HDL / LDL-a / LDL-b ratios and their relation to triglyceride levels. Folks who take cholesterol-reducing drugs have, as a side-effect, memory loss. The same can be said about those taking ‘the purple pill’ for acid-reflux: people are experiencing acid reflux because there is an insufficient amount of hydrochloric acid in their stomachs to cause the sphincter to close and digestion to begin. Because of this, the stomach is dutifully trying to digest the food it receives, even with the sphincter at the top of the stomach still open, and that’s where the so-called acid reflux takes place. They would be better off taking an HCl supplement before a meal to get the sphincter to close and eliminate the acid reflux.
    But I digress. The best way to get one’s cholesterol in balance is to provide the body an ample supply of cholesterol, which the body will utilize and regulate, and those nasty cholesterol numbers will balance out.

    1. Guess what elese cholesterol is essential for? Heart attacks… In fact it’s the biggest risk factor for CVD. If you can get your cholesterol under 150 then you are concidered heart-atack proof. The science is crystal clear if you take animal industry propaganda out of the picture.

      If you’re not convinced then maybe you don’t want to be convinced? Have you ever heard of the term “Astro-turfing message boards”? It’s a form of deception where large companies like the Meat, egg and dairy industry covertly pay people to post in formums such as this to mitigate nagative press about thier products. i.e. such as the egg board paying people to astro-turf Nutritionfacts. I’m not saying you are an “astro-turfer”… but I’ts a fact that nutritionfacts is heavily astro-turfed by the meat, egg and dairy industry. I am just pointing this out in case you were truly interested in what the real unbias science has to say on the topic, and Dr G is spot on.

  7. Hello Everyone,

    This thread sure carries some weight and apparently this subject can get pretty heated.

    The reason I am chiming in. I had my blood checked a few weeks ago for my insurance company. Apparently, my LDL cholesterol is 270. I am a 50 year old female who is 5’2 and 140 pounds. I’ve been a pastry chef and own a catering company along with everything else I do.

    Please don’t judge me, but I grew up eating meat and all dairy products. I don’t have a family history of heart disease, but type 2 diabetes. I have always been concerned about this and have my blood checked every year. In this category I am good with a result of a 93.

    I realize eliminating or at least reducing all animal products is the first thing to do. Other than that, I have no idea how to start, how to eat and where to go for help. I don’t like pharmaceuticals and would rather not go to my doctor for advice because this is the first thing they advise. Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Many Thanks,

    1. Jenny Ramirez: Good for you for attempting a change. I know it can be really overwhelming. No judgement here! Below are suggestions that I often make for people who want to know how to get started. These are transition ideas. I can also help with more specific questions/concerns if you think of something. (Like say: How do I get enough protein? or What do I put in my morning oatmeal/coffee??? or What does a healthy diet look like big-picture wise to make sure I get all my nutrients? Etc.)


      The PCRM (Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine) site says that the average household tends to cycle through about 9 different meals for dinner. In other words, baring special occasions or the rare time of trying a new recipe, most households are eating only about 9 different dishes for dinner. Lunch can generally be be left over dinner. And breakfast can oatmeal prepared in any number of different ways for lots of variety.

      So, that leaves you with only having to find 9 dishes that you like. Don’t worry about doing it all at once. Just start working on it. Find those dishes and before you know it, you will have enough ideas in your pocket to make the transition for good. I have two ideas for you on finding the 9 (or so) dishes:
      >> 1) Start thinking about what you already eat and enjoy, and think about how you could make them without meat, dairy and eggs. These dishes, for example, are easy to make healthy: chili, burritos, lasagna, all manner of soups and stews, bean and quinoa salads, spaghetti, etc.

      >> 2) Consider also investing in a good cookbook or two. I recommend these for starters: Everyday Happy Herbivore, Vegan On the Cheap, Let Them Eat Vegan, and Vegan Casseroles. You want to find a book that uses mostly whole plant foods. (In other words, just because it is vegan, doesn’t mean it is healthy. So, do some research before picking a book.) Or you might look for some free recipes on-line.

      If you want more hand-holding than the above transition plan, consider signing up for the free on-line PCRM 21 Day Kickstart program. They will give you grocery lists, recipes, meal plans, etc. And it includes a dietician-moderated forum which can answer your questions.
      (scroll down to register)

      I suggest that in addition to the above idea(s), you also consider finding a group of people in your area who are already eating a whole plant food diet. The moral/social support and the ideas that you can get from such a group can be really helpful! One place to find such a group might be the website: Meetup.com. Search by keywords vegetarian and vegan for a group in your area. Another idea is to find a vegetarian or vegan restaurant or food cart in your area and ask the staff about local groups.

      I hope that helps!

  8. I give up!! We are just sticking with our Mediterranian Diet. My wife loves salmon, I only eat tuna about one a week. we eat more healthy plant food, veggies, nuts, seeds, much less, practically no beef, some turkey, chicken,, she like cheese, I limit cheese, we love fruit, I like veggie burgers. We buy by reading ingredients, organic, non gmo and get annoyed with things we don’t understand, Please help us understand more about more about what is in of what we buy and should avoid. Saturated fat is still not good, or is it? Make healthy eating simple, I do agree that genetics are huge when it come to leaving sooner or later. Get exercise as long as you can at least walk.

    1. ron: You and your wife sound like you consume diets which include a lot of unhealthy foods in addition to healthy foods. I understand your plea when you write, “Make healthy eating simple,…” Dr. Greger’s recommendations for eating healthy are very simple. He calls them the Daily Dozen. If you followed the Daily Dozen, it would help you clean up your diet if that is something you are interested in doing.

      If you have a smart phone, you can get a free phone app for the Daily Dozen. Alternatively, here is an article that explains the very simple Daily Dozen eating plan: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3470450/Foods-eat-day-Dr-Michael-Greger-s-Daily-Dozen.html

      If you want it even simpler, check out the PCRM Power Plate: http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/pplate/power-plate Doesn’t get any easier. :-)

  9. Thea,

    What do you mean by a lot of unhealthy foods? We do follow the daily dozen? Perhaps you are referring to chicken and turkey. We consume that no more than once every 1-2 weeks. As for ingredients, some limited us of chips, crackers but only use whole wheat or whole grains, limited turkey sausage or potato pierogi’s, veggie burgers, no deli meats.

    1. ron: What I noticed in your post was mention of eating chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, and cheese. Some of this, some of that. It adds up. Even if you think my characterization of your diet is off, I hope the rest of my post was helpful to you.

      1. Not even close Thea. We are definitely daily dozen followers. Just wanted to give the whole story, we haven’t eliminated all those but use them sparingly. We are 81a and 83 and watch what we eat like a hawk. I think this discussion was a bit too academic and many comments unsupported without evidence. The subject of nutrition has so many directions and unanswered comments.

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