London: For meat lovers, this may be either
a good or a bad news, as a new study has claimed that red meat
is not bad for health, but regular eating of processed meat
can increase the risk of heart disease.
In the first research of its kind, a team from Harvard
University found that eating unprocessed red meats such as a
steak, roast pork or lamb chop does not increase the risk.
Red meat has previously been blamed for causing health
problems including cardiovascular disease and diabetes but
according to researchers, processed meats could be to blame.
But the researchers found that a daily breakfast
including sausage and a couple of slices of bacon increases
the risk of developing heart disease by two-fifths and
diabetes by a fifth, the Telegraph reported.
For their research, the team systematically reviewed 20
studies involving 1.2 million people from 10 countries around
the world into the effects on health of eating process and
They found that an average daily serving of 50 grammes of
processed meat -- equivalent to two slices of deli meat or one
hotdog -- increased the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Dr Renata Micha, the lead author of the study and a
research fellow in the university`s department of
epidemiology, said most dietary guidelines still recommend
reducing meat consumption despite prior studies into showing
mixed results about the harm it causes.
"Most prior studies also did not separately consider the
health effects of eating unprocessed red versus processed
meats," she said.
She said that while both types of meat have similar
levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, processed meats
tested in the US had on average four times more salt and 50
per cent more nitrate preservatives.
"This suggests that differences in salt and preservatives,
rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart
disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with
unprocessed red meats," she said.
Salt in food has also been linked to high blood pressure,
a strong risk factor for heart disease.
In animal experiments, nitrate preservatives can promote
atherosclerosis and reduce glucose tolerance, effects which
could also increase risk of heart disease and diabetes.
"To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people
should consider which types of meats they are eating," Dr
"Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot
dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to
avoid. Based on our findings, eating one serving per week or
less would be associated with relatively small risk."
The findings of the new research were published in the