white meats are healthier

Why are white meats healthier?

Food, Nutrology

We all know that white meat is healthier than red meat, but what problems result from eating lots of red meat? Today we present a study which showed which diseases are increased, and by how much.

The study, published on May 9 in the British Medical Journal, studied the dietary habits and health outcomes of over 530,000 men and women aged 50 to 71. Over 16 years, the researchers surveyed how much white or red meat each person ate on average, and correlated that with the diseases the person developed over time (if any).

Diseases that result from lots of red meat intake

The results showed that the 20% of the people in the study who ate the most red meats—including both processed and non-processed meats—had an 26% higher risk of dying from the following:

Chronic liver disease

Kidney disease




Heart disease


Respiratory disease

The worst offender was chronic liver disease, meaning red meat increased the risk of this more than any other problem. And the people who ate the most white meat had about a 25% lower overall risk of dying during the 16 years study.

Before we discuss why, let’s review the difference between red, white, and dark meats.

Red meat includes, most notably, beef, lamb, and yes, pork. While cooks consider pork a white meat, nutritionally and health-wise, pork is a red meat. They are red because they have more of the protein myoglobin, which is red because it contains iron.

White meat includes most parts of poultry, and fish.

Dark meat includes certain parts of the poultry, mostly legs and wings. The reason again is a higher concentration of the red colored protein myoglobin.

Why red and dark meats are not as healthy

These meats are not as healthy because they increase overall inflammation and the production of “free radicals” in the body. We know anti-oxidants are good for us, but red and dark meats act in a way that is the opposite of anti-oxidants. That is because they contain the iron compound “heme”, as well as nitrates and nitrate preservatives (in processed meats).

While heme is good for strengthening our blood, it also has these negative effects. A little bit of heme intake is good, but too much causes too much inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, leading to the diseases noted above.

Why white meat is healthier

White meat—poultry and fish—do not have nitrates or nitrates, and have much less of the heme compound than darker meats. They do not lead to the inflammation and oxidative stress of the other meats.

Why dark meat poultry is less healthy

The dark parts of poultry are dark because they are a different type of muscle tissue—they are the muscles that the bird uses to move (legs and wings). It is not that dark meat is totally unhealthy. It contains more iron than white meat, and also more zinc and B vitamins. But dark meat also has more calories than white meat, and significantly more saturated fat.

Bottom line

If you want to decrease your chances of developing these 8 diseases, emphasize white meat over dark or red meats. You don’t have to avoid dark or red, just prioritize the white parts of poultry, and especially fish, which is even better (fish is full of omega-3). Another option is to avoid red meats or all meats entirely, which studies show is the healthiest option of all.

If you want to find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website: www.procuramed.com

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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