Most of the current diets today seem to try and avoid consuming as much meat as possible. One of the usual reasons is that many associate eating red meat with increased heart attack risk. But recent research has shown that this belief may not be entirely true when different types of meat are considered.
According to a recent study conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), eating processed meat and not red meat in general will raise the risk of heart disease as well as diabetes. Processed meat such as bacon, sausage, and other similar meat products was associated with 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, eating unprocessed red meat such as those that come from beef, pork or lamb did not present any significant increase in heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk.
Renata Micha, a research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH and lead author of the said study, “Although most dietary guidelines recommend reducing meat consumption, prior individual studies have shown mixed results for relationships between meat consumption and cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Most prior studies also did not separately consider the health effects of eating unprocessed red versus processed meats.”
Micha, along with fellow researchers Dariush Mozaffarian, assistant professor and Sarah Wallace, junior research fellow, both from the Department of Epidemiology, systematically reviewed around 1,600 studies. About 20 were identified which was composed of over 1,218,380 individuals coming from 10 countries hailing from either North America, Europe, Australia or Asia.
The researchers have defined unprocessed red meat as any unprocessed meat coming from beef, pork or lamb, excluding poultry. Processed meat on the other hand was defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting or that which involved the addition of chemical preservatives.
The results of the study showed that each 50 gram daily serving of processed meat is associate with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and 19 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. But eating unprocessed red meat was not associated with the risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.