The difference between red and white meat

2022-03-09 21:12:39
The difference between red and white meat

There has been a raging debate on which is the better source of animal protein, white or red meat. Most people, however, have advocated for white meat.

Though meat comes from different livestock species namely dairy cattle, goats, camels, beef cattle, small ruminants, non-ruminants, poultry and emerging livestock such as quail and rabbits, research has shown that chicken is the most consumed at 92 per cent, followed by beef at 84.7 per cent and fish at 79.4 per cent.

The high consumption of chicken is perhaps due to the myth that white meat is healthier than red. It is time to demystify the myths.

Most people avoid meats that are high in cholesterol, choosing lean cuts and white meat. However, studies have shown that white meat does not contain any lower amounts of cholesterol than red meat, that is, chicken contains as much cholesterol as beef.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2019, an analysis of one small, grilled, skinless chicken breast was found to contain around 100 milligrams of cholesterol, what can add some 0.13 mmol/L (or 5 mg/dL) to your cholesterol level. Too much bad cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease. The study did not provide evidence for choosing white over red meat to reduce cardiovascular disease.

Although most people consider chicken to be lean meat with less fat, this assumption is incorrect as shown by an analysis from London Metropolitan University on chicken thigh meat from several supermarkets and organic suppliers.

The findings showed that it contained more than twice as much fat, a third more calories and a third less protein. So much for it being a ‘high-protein’ food; someone eating 100 grams of chicken would get more calories at 207 from the fat than the protein that is only 64. Similarly, organic chicken was not any better as the 154 calories from fat exceeded the 74 calories from protein. The study concluded that in view of the obesity epidemic, chickens that provide several times the fat energy compared with protein seemed illogical.

It is normally argued that white meat does not cause cancer as compared to red meat. But it has been found that thoroughly cooking white meat, including that from chicken, duck and turkey, can generate hazardous chemicals known as heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), which are linked to cancer in humans.

The HAAs form when sugars and creatine; a protein building block found mostly in muscle; are heated during cooking. Both are naturally present in meats. Some of the highest concentrations are in grilled meat like chicken which contains more than 10 times the amount in grilled beef. Frying often produces large amounts of HAAs, too. These HAAs can bind directly to human DNA, causing mutation and initiating cancer.

Another myth is that white meat does not cause diabetes. A 2018 study published in Diabetes Care, found that cooking chicken at high temperatures such as roasting, grilling, barbecuing and frying (very common cooking methods for poultry) can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

According to a study published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, “The massive use of antibiotics amplifies and accelerates the emergence and spread of drug-resistant bacteria and ultimately leads to transmission of resistant bacteria from animals to humans through the food chain.” One of the most common superbugs is extra intestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli which causes bladder and urinary tract infections.

A 2008 study found that male children of women with high levels of phthalate in their blood while pregnant were more likely to have adverse health outcomes. They noted that the presence of one phthalate metabolite (MEHP), was associated with smaller penis size.

Further, a 2009 study found that the presence of MEHP was associated with lower testosterone levels in men. Therefore, these studies did not prove that the effect came from meat but it came from contamination from phthalates.

By Petronilla Nduthu for Daily Monitor (Uganda)

Tags: health
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