Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors Unaffected by Red Meat Consumption

December 20th 2016
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

Consuming more than the recommended amount of red meat does not affect cholesterol or blood pressure.

Consuming more than half a serving of red meat per day does not affect short-term cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, according to a new study published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“During the last 20 years, there have been recommendations to eat less red meat as part of a healthier diet, but our research supports that red meat can be incorporated into a healthier diet,” said investigator Wayne Campbell, professor of nutrition science. “Red meat is a nutrient-rich food, not only as a source of protein but also bioavailable iron.”

Although prior research suggests that red meat consumption is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, the studies aren’t designed to show that red meat is causing cardiovascular disease.

To address this issue, a team of investigators conducted a review and analysis of past clinic trials, which are able to detect cause and effect between eating habits and health risks. They screened hundreds of related research articles that met specific criteria including study design, the amount of red meat consumed, and the evaluation of cardiovascular disease risk factors.

There were 24 studies that met the criteria. The research included all types of redmeat, mostly unprocessed beef and pork.

“We found that consuming more than half a serving per day of red meat, which is equivalent to a 3 ounce serving 3 times per week, did not worsen blood pressure and blood total cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipoprotein), and triglyceride concentrations, which are commonly screened by health care providers,” said investigator Lauren O’Connor.

Because the evaluation of blood pressure and cholesterol are not the sole determinants for someone to develop cardiovascular disease, the authors said more analysis needs to be done.

“It is also important to recognize that our findings are specific to selected indicators for cardiovascular disease risk,” Campbell said. “Comparable research is needed to assess other health risk factors from clinical trials, including inflammation and blood glucose control.”

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