Eating beef, lamb, pork and processed meats will increase the risk of coronary heart disease later in life, says a new meta-analysis of studies. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability globally.
The study, which was published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, points out that the risk for coronary heart disease increased as the amount of meat increased. Anika Knuppel, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Oxford’s department of population health and study co-author, said processed meat appears to be worse for coronary heart disease. “This is in line with what has been found for bowel cancer, where processed meat has been shown to be associated with higher increase in risk than red meat.”
Knuppel gave an example of a restaurant dinner – a typical cut of beef, fillets, sirlons, strip and rib eye steaks eaten at a steakhouse can weigh between 255 to 340 grams. That means you could easily consume about 142 to 198 grams of beef in a single meal.
The study reveals that there is no link between eating poultry (chicken and turkey) and an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Lean meats, most types of poultry do not contain the levels of saturated fats as found in red meat, nor the high levels of sodium that are part of processed meats. Saturated fat plays a major role in the development of plaque on the walls of arteries, a key contributor to the blockages associated with coronary heart disease. Sodium can raise blood pressure and restrict the flow of blood to the heart.
Researchers regard plant-based diet as the best. Dieticians recommend eating more veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy foods while cutting back on food high in saturated fat. The DASH diet includes three whole-grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra-virgin olive oil. Meat is used very rarely, usually only to flavor a dish. Instead, meals may include eggs, dairy and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet.