In a new study from the University of Oxford, researchers confirmed red and processed meat linked to higher risk of heart disease.
Globally, coronary heart diseases (caused by narrowed arteries that supply the heart with blood) claim nearly nine million lives each year, the largest of any disease, and present a huge burden to health systems.
Until now, it has been unclear whether eating meat increases the risk of heart disease, and if this varies for different kinds of meat.
In the study, the team conducted the largest systematic review of the prospective evidence to date, including thirteen cohort studies involving over 1.4 million people.
The participants completed detailed dietary assessments, and their health was tracked for up to 30 years.
Overall, the evidence from the analysis indicated that:
Each 50 g/day higher intake of processed meat (e.g. bacon, ham, and sausages) increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 18%.
Each 50 g/day higher intake of unprocessed red meat (such as beef, lamb and pork) increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 9%.
There was no clear link between eating poultry (such as chicken and turkey) and an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
The findings maybe because of the high content of saturated fat in red meat, and of sodium (salt) in processed meat.
High intakes of saturated fat increase levels of harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, whilst excess salt consumption raises blood pressure.
Both LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure are well-established risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Previous work from the same research team has also found that even moderate intakes of red and processed meat are associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
The team says red and processed meat has been consistently linked with bowel cancer and our findings suggest an additional role in heart disease.
Therefore, current recommendations to limit red and processed meat consumption may also assist with the prevention of coronary heart disease.
If you care about food and your heart health, please read studies about these foods may increase risks of heart disease and findings of these common foods could make heart failure more dangerous.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about this food ingredient may strongly increase heart disease death risk and results showing that removing this food ingredient could save thousands of lives from heart disease.
The study is published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. One author of the study is Dr. Keren Papier.
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