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Is red and processed meat good for your health?

Consuming red meat (beef, lamb, pork) and processed meat increases the risk of coronary heart disease in the future. This is according to a recent meta-analysis of studies conducted on more than 1.4 million people who were monitored for 30 years. Also called coronary artery disease, it is among the leading cause of fatalities and disabilities worldwide. The condition develops when fats create a plaque buildup on the linings of the arteries that take blood to heart.

An increase in meat consumption increased the risk of coronary artery disease, as reported in a study recently published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. In every 50 grams intake of red meat, the risk of the disease increased to 9%. According to the American Cancer Society, the preferred amount of meat to be eaten is about 85 grams, equivalent to the size of a bar of soap.

For every 50 grams of processed meat (bacon, sausage, ham, etc.) consumed, the risk increased to 18%. Processed meat appeared to have the greatest risk for coronary heart disease, as stated by a nutritional epidemiologist at the department of population health at the University of Oxford. He said it is the same as the findings for bowel cancer, where processed meat is linked to a higher increase in risk than red meat.

It might not sound like that much of a risk if you take it like few people consume less than 2 ounces of this kind of meat at any meal. 9% – 18% seems like less of a risk, right? Consider a hotel lunch of beef. Filets, strips, or sirloins taken at a restaurant can have between 255 to 340 grams. This implies that you could easily eat about 142 to 198 grams of beef in one meal. And maybe you took bacon for breakfast- your risk is much higher.

Poultry is okay

The research study did not find a link between consuming poultry such as chicken and turkey and an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Poultry, also known as lean meats, does not have the levels of saturated fat present in red meat and the high amount of sodium found in processed meats. Saturated fat is the root cause of plaque that develops on the linings of the arteries responsible for blockages related to coronary heart disease. On the other hand, sodium can lead to high blood pressure, limiting blood flow to the heart.

DASH, Mediterranean, and Ornish diet.

According to the studies, the recommended diets are plant-based as they reduce the risk of heart disease. DASH, Mediterranean, and Ornish diet appeared top in a ranking for the best diet for heart health by World Report and U. S. News.

Dr. Dean Ornish, the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute founder in California, came up with the Ornish diet in 1977. He refers to the diet as the only scientifically confirmed program to reverse heart disease in a randomized clinical trial without medicine or surgery. However, experts have said the diet is limiting and hard to stick to.

The DASH diet is good for lower blood pressure. The diet includes; eating more vegetables, fruits, and low-fat food, reducing any food with high levels of saturated fat, and limiting salt intake. The meal plan contains three whole-grain products daily, 4-6 servings of veggies, 2-4 servings of dairy products, and several portions each of lean meats and legumes. Research has shown that sticking to this diet can reduce blood pressure in a span of weeks.

The Mediterranean Diet was the leading diet in this year’s ranking. Studies have found that the diet can reduce the risk of memory loss, breast cancer, high cholesterol, depression, diabetes, and dementia. Foods from the sunny Mediterranean region have also been associated with healthier lives, stronger bones, and longer life. The diet includes plant-based meals, with the majority consisting of fruits, veggies, cereals, whole grains, and extra-virgin oil. Cut off refined sugar and wheat and consume other types of fats rarely.

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