Eating red and processed meats can increase risk of heart disease.

In the fall of 2019, a controversial study came out recommending that it was not required for people to change their diet in terms of consumption of red and processed meat.

A new study extensively and carefully analyzes the relation between red and processed meat consumption with a slight increase in the risk of heart disease and death. The study was conducted by Northwestern Medicine and Cornell University.


In fact, the study found that eating two portions of red meat, processed meat or poultry each week is linked to a 3 to 7% increase in risk of suffering cardiovascular disease and was also associated with a 3% higher risk of all causes of death.

Senior study author Norrina Allen who works at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said the even if “it is a small difference it's worth trying to cut down on red meat and processed meat such as pepperoni, bologna and deli meats”. At the same time, she stated that red meat consumption has been consistently correlated with various health problems like cancer.

The paper was published on the February issue of JAMA Internal Medicine


What to eat then?

Although the study shows a robust link between cardiovascular disease and mortality, the studies concerning poultry intake haven’t found sufficient evidence so far to make a clear recommendation. Still, fried chicken is not recommended.

The method of cooking the chicken and consumption of the skin rather than the chicken meat itself may be influencing the obtained results.

Linda Van Horn, co-author of the study and member of the 2020 Advisory committee for U.S Dietary Guidelines said that "Fish, seafood and plant-based sources of protein such as nuts and legumes, including beans and peas, are excellent alternatives to meat and are under-consumed in the U.S."

The study also did not found any association between eating fish and heart disease or mortality.

The study, of course, has limitations such as onetime assessment of participants' dietary intake. Since dietary preferences and behaviors may change in the participant's lifetime. Cooking methods were not considered and they can have a significant impact in reducing the negative effects that some food content may have overtime on a regular basis.

Here is a link to watching a video interview with the study author.







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