The Oxford study found a strong association between red and processed meat consumption and increased heart disease risk.
Red and processed meat increase the risk of heart disease by nearly one-fifth, a new study has found.
The study published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition is one of the largest systematic reviews of its kind including thirteen cohort studies.
It involved researchers at the University of Oxford tracking dietary data and health of over 1.4 million participants for up to 30 years.
They found that each 50 g/day consumption of processed meat such as bacon, ham, salami, and sausages increased the risk of heart disease by 18%.
Meanwhile eating 50 g/day of unprocessed red meat including beef, lamb and pork increased heart disease risk by 9%.
According to researchers, the increased risk is because of the high content of saturated fat in red meat, and of sodium (salt) in processed meat.
Excess saturated fat increases levels of harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while excess salt raises blood pressure – both of which are well-established risk factors for coronary heart disease.
The same team in an earlier study determined that moderate intakes of red and processed meat are associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
The experts recommended slashing red and processed meat intake by three-quarters to lower heart disease risks. They added that governments should update public health guidelines to encourage people to reduce their meat consumption.
Anika Knüppel, a co-lead author of the study, said: “We know that meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and we need to reduce meat production and consumption to benefit the environment.
“Our study shows that a reduction in red and processed meat intake would bring personal health benefits too.”
Commenting on the findings, British Heart Foundation spokesperson, Victoria Taylor, said: “The impact of red and processed meat on our risk of heart disease has been up for debate for decades.
“This review supports existing recommendations to reduce consumption of red and processed meat to help lower our risk.”
Meat health hazards
This is not the first time red and processed meat have been linked to health complications.
Previous studies have linked meat consumption to increased inflammation, rapid ageing, and a higher risk of various diseases including cancer, digestive disorders, and diabetes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen. Its website states this is “based on sufficient evidence from epidemiological studies that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”
It also classifies red meat as a Group 2A, which means it is “probably” carcinogenic.
Share this story: Eating red meat increases risk of heart diseases by 18%, mega study says
QUIZ: Take this personality test and we’ll reveal if you’re a Junk Food Vegan or a Health Food Vegan