Dark Meat Can Be Heart-Healthy, Study ShowsTuesday, March 06, 2012
Doctors have long recommended choosing white meat over dark meat, since it is lower in saturated fat, but evidence now indicates that dark meat has more heart-healthy attributes. The dark meat of poultry contains taurine, a nutrient that significantly lowered the risk of coronary heart disease in women with high cholesterol in a New York University School of Medicine study. In the study, blood levels of taurine and the diets of 500 women were examined. Those who had high cholesterol levels and high levels of taurine had a 60 percent lower risk of heart disease. Taurine also may offer protection against diabetes and high blood pressure. Taurine is responsible for reducing inflammation, regulating blood pressure, healthy nerve function, and producing bile that breaks down fat, among other important functions. The nutrient is abundant in dark meat poultry, clams, and oysters. White meat, while lower in saturated fat, does not have as many nutrients as dark meat, including iron, zinc, selenium, vitamins A and K, and several B vitamins. People who do not consume animal products may need to take supplements. The body can convert vitamin B6 and the amino acid cysteine, found in some plant seeds, into taurine. Synthetic taurine is in many energy drinks at 10 times the level found in dark meat, but it may not confer the same benefits as natural taurine.