According to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), consuming processed meat may put people at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. It has long been known that red meat is a primary source of medium and long-chain saturated fatty acids which have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Previous dietary guidelines have recommended limiting the consumption of both red and processed meats based on studies confirming their cardiovascular disease impact. However, these studies have limited global applicability as they have come primarily from populations only in North America and Europe.
This new study has helped with the research gap, giving a better understanding of meat and meat product consumption’s global health impact. With the previous inconsistent information, Dr. Romaina Iqbal and her team set out to better understand the associations between processed and processed meat with major cardiovascular events and mortality.
This study worked with data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study, a long-term research study launched in 2003 by Dr. Salim Yusuf. The PURE study has tracked the dietary habits and health outcomes of more than 164,000 participants across five continents of 21 low, middle, and high-income countries.
Dr. Mahshid Dehghan, one of the study’s authors, explained, “The PURE study is the first multinational study that provides information on the association between unprocessed and processed meat intakes with health outcomes from low- and middle-income countries. Moreover, the PURE study examines substantially more diverse populations and broad patterns of diet, enabling us to provide new evidence.”
All participants’ dietary habits were recorded via the use of food questionnaires. Data was also collected on mortality and major cardiovascular disease events to help researchers better understand any associations between meat consumption patterns and disease and mortality.
A Contrast in Types of Meat
In conclusion of the study, the authors “did not find significant associations between unprocessed red meat and poultry intake with mortality or major cardiovascular disease.” They did, however, find that processed meat intake was associated with higher risks of total mortality and major cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks.
More research is needed to examine further the relationship between meat consumption and health outcomes. With growing evidence, health experts can better advise clients what foods to avoid if they are more at risk for cardiovascular disease and other types of illness.