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Unprocessed and Processed Meat, and CV Risk and Diabetes

Aug 28, 2013

Eating healthy still the best route…. 

Researchers systemically reviewed 20 studies involving more than 1.2 million participants to analyze the association between processed meat (such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and salami), unprocessed red meat, and total meat consumption and cardiovascular disease, strokes, and diabetes.

The study defined unprocessed red meat as beef, lamb, or pork food. Processed red meat was defined at any meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or chemical preservatives such as nitrates.

The results have shown that there was not a significant risk in cardiovascular complications and diabetes associated with unprocessed meat. However, participants who consumed at least one serving of processed red meat per day had 42 percent (n=23,000) and 19 percent (n=10,000) higher risk of develop cardiovascular disease and diabetes, respectively. Only 3 out of 20 studies analyzed strokes outcome. Therefore, the sample was too small to draw a valid association between red meat consumption and stroke.

Researchers suggested that the high content of salt, which is linked to high blood pressure and preservatives such as nitrates could contribute to lowered glucose tolerance in processed red meat and might be the culprit for higher metabolic disease risk.

However, researchers noted that "people should not use this finding as an excuse to eat all the unprocessed meat you like," Renata Micha, a research fellow in epidemiology, said in an interview. "We know fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish are associated with lower risk. People should put more emphasis on increasing foods in their diet that are shown to be protective."

Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation.Jun 1;121(21):2271-83