Red and processed meat linked to heart disease, mega study finds
For every 1.75 ounces (50 grams) of processed meats such as bacon, ham or sausages that were eaten, the risk increased by 18%.
“Processed meat appears to be worse for coronary heart disease,” said Anika Knüppel, study co-author, a nutritional epidemiologist in the Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford.
“This matches what has been found for bowel cancer, where processed meat has been shown to be associated with a higher increased risk than red meat,” Knüppel said.
Nine at 18% doesn’t sound like a big risk? This could if you consider that not many people eat less than 2 ounces of red or processed meat at a meal.
Take the example of a restaurant dinner with a typical cut of beef. Tenderloin, sirloin, strip loin, and rib eye steak eaten in a steakhouse can weigh anywhere from 9 to 12 ounces (255 to 340 grams). This means that you could easily consume around 5 to 7 ounces (142 to 198 grams) of beef in a single meal. Did you have bacon for breakfast? Your risk is even higher.
No problem with poultry
The report also delivered good news for carnivores: There did not appear to be a link between consumption of poultry, such as chicken and turkey, and an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Considered lean meats, most types of poultry do not contain the levels of saturated fat found in red meat, nor the high levels of sodium that are part of processed meats. Saturated fat plays a major role in the development of plaque on the walls of the arteries, a key contributor to blockages associated with coronary heart disease. Sodium can increase blood pressure, also restricting blood flow to the heart.
Switch to a plant-based diet
The DASH diet is often recommended for lowering blood pressure. Its principle is simple: eat more vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products while reducing foods high in saturated fat and limiting your salt intake.
The meal plan includes three whole grain products each day, four to six servings of vegetables, four to six servings of fruit, two to four servings of dairy, and several servings each of lean meats and nuts / seeds / legumes.
The diet includes simple plant-based cuisine, with the majority of each meal focusing on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a particular emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. . Say goodbye to refined sugar and flour except on rare occasions. Fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all.
Meat can make a rare appearance, usually just to flavor a dish. Instead, meals can include eggs, dairy, and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. Fish, however, is a staple.
Want to make the Mediterranean diet one of your goals this year? Start by cooking one meal a week of beans, whole grains, and vegetables, using herbs and spices to add oomph. When one night a week is a cinch, add two and build your meatless meals from there.