A new study carefully analysed links between red and processed meat consumption and slightly higher risk of heart disease.
This may not be new information, as multiple studies and dieticians have spoken about the perils of eating too much meat. These scientists from Northwestern Medicine and Cornell University believe that they are combatting misinformation published in a controversial meta-analysis published last November that recommended people not reduce the amount of red meat and processed meat they eat.
They say that their study definitively shows that eating two servings of red meat, processed meat or poultry, but not fish, per week was linked to a 3 to 7% higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating two servings of red meat or processed meat, but not poultry or fish, per week was associated with a 3% higher risk of all causes of death.
“Our study shows the link to cardiovascular disease and mortality was robust,” Victor Zhong, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell said.
The study included 29,682 participants who self-reported diet data. They were asked to supply a long list of what they ate for the previous year or month. While red and processed meats were easily identified as having an effect on cardiovascular health, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to make a clear recommendation on poultry intake.
“Modifying intake of these animal protein foods may be an important strategy to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death at a population level,” said lead study author Victor Zhong, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell, who did the research when he was a postdoctoral fellow in Allen’s lab.
The study recommends cutting down and replacing these products with fish, seafood and plant-based proteins such as nuts and legumes.
“It’s a small difference, but it’s worth trying to reduce red meat and processed meat like pepperoni, bologna and deli meats,” said senior study author Norrina Allen, associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Red meat consumption also is consistently linked to other health problems like cancer.”