A large, long-term study has found that unprocessed red meat and any type of processed meat are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death.
Twice weekly consumption of processed meat, red meat, or poultry — but not fish — increases the rate of cardiovascular disease by 3 to 7 percent.
What is more, bi-weekly consumption of processed meat or even unprocessed red meat — but not fish or poultry — is linked to a 3 percent increase in the risk of death.
Past studies have also found that a higher intake of red meat can lead to several health issues such as cancer.
A study by Dr Smith and colleagues suggested that processed meats and red meats are the foods most strongly linked to weight gain.
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously suggested that processed foods can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Professor Norrina Allen, the senior author of this study, said:
“It’s a small difference, but it’s worth trying to reduce red meat and processed meat like pepperoni, bologna and deli meats.”
Dr Victor Zhong, study’s first author, said;
“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.”
The research team analysed data from 6 different studies that included 29,682 adult participants with a 30 year follow-up.
It might be better to cut down on these types of foods in our diet and replace them with other protein sources such as seeds, nuts, dairy products, legumes, fish, and seafood.
Professor Linda Van Horn, study co-author, said:
“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.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine (Zhong et al., 2020).