- It’s time to cut back your red meat consumption
- Eating grilled or well-done meat, fish tied to high blood pressure risk
Hypertension and Nutrition
- What is high blood pressure?
- How does nutrition affect blood pressure?
- What should I eat to control high blood pressure?
- What are some of the foods I should eat?
- What foods should I eat less of?
- What’s the difference between sodium and salt?
- How does salt increase blood pressure?
- How much sodium is too much?
- How can I reduce my sodium intake?
- What foods are high in sodium?
- What else should I do to change my diet?
- Comparison of Sodium in Foods
- Does Eating Red Meat Increase Your Risk of High Blood Pressure?
- The dangers of eating too much red meat
- Cooking meat at high temperatures may also contribute to high blood pressure
- What you should eat instead
It’s time to cut back your red meat consumption
Eating red meat increases your chances of dying prematurely. That’s the stark finding of a very large and very well done clinical study just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study found that eating red and processed meat was associated with increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality. They found that eating just 4 ounces of red meat a day raises your overall risk of dying prematurely, raises your risk of dying from cancer and raises your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. I’d say that means it’s time to decrease your consumption of red meat, which includes beef, pork and processed meats like sausage, bacon and cold cuts.
There are a number of reasons why eating red meat might be bad for your health. Red meat is loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat. The cooking of red meat produces cancer-causing compounds. Red meat contains a lot of iron, which is believed to promote cancer growth. Processed meats contain a variety of cancer-causing chemicals. Eating red meat is associated with high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, which in turn increase the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease.
You don’t have to eliminate red meat entirely. Instead, you should avoid eating it every day. According to Dr. Walter Willet, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, who was quoted in The Washington Post,”You can be very healthy being a vegetarian, but you can be very healthy being a non-vegetarian if you keep your red-meat intake low,” Willett said. “If you are eating meat twice a day and can cut back to once a day there’s a big benefit. If you cut back to two or three times a week there’s even more benefit. If you eliminate it entirely, there’s a little more benefit, but the big benefit is getting away from everyday red-meat consumption.”
Writing in an accompanying editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr. Barry Popkin, of the University of North Carolina, agreed with Dr. Willett’s assessment that you don’t necessarily need to become a vegetarian, “Rather, the need is for a major reduction in total meat intake, an even larger reduction in processed meat and other highly processed and salted animal source food products, and a reduction in total saturated fat.” He did note, however, that “there are many scholars who would argue for the strong nutritional benefits of or at least a major shift toward more of a Mediterranean diet with minimal red meat intake.”
Not only would cutting back on red meat consumption be good for your personal health, it would also be good for the health of the planet. That’s because the industrial production of meat uses a lot of natural resources (far more than growing fruits and vegetables), uses a tremendous amount of water, creates a lot of pollution (including water pollution from runoff of waste and chemicals, and increased greenhouse gases from all the methane gas excreted by the animals), requires huge amounts of pesticides on the plants (such as corn) grown to feed the animals, and requires the use of all sorts of antibiotics to keep disease down (with the resulting increase in bacterial resistance). Dr. Popkin was further quoted in The Washington Post as saying “”There’s a big interplay between the global increase in animal food intake and the effects on climate change. If we cut by a few ounces a day our red-meat intake, we would have big impact on emissions and environmental degradation.”
Bad for your health, bad for the environment. It’s time to reduce your consumption of red meat.
Eating grilled or well-done meat, fish tied to high blood pressure risk
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Eating beef, chicken or fish grilled or well-done is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, new research suggests.
“Among individuals who consume red meat, chicken, or fish regularly, our findings imply that avoiding the use of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling/barbecuing, broiling, and roasting, may help reduce hypertension risk,” Dr. Gang Liu of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston told Reuters Health by email.
“Although some studies have suggested that higher intake of red meat, especially processed red meat, is associated with higher risk of hypertension, the associations of chicken or fish intake with hypertension risk remain inconsistent,” he explained. “These previous studies did not take into account one important factor – different meat cooking methods.”
Dr. Liu presented the new findings at an American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans last week.
He and his colleagues analyzed cooking methods and the development of hypertension in adults who regularly ate beef, poultry or fish and were participating in three long-term studies: 32,925 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, 53,852 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II, and 17,104 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
In each study, detailed cooking information was collected. None of the participants had hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer at the start, but 37,123 people developed hypertension during an average follow-up of 12 to 16 years.
The researchers found that “a higher frequency of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking and a preference for higher meat doneness level were both independently associated with an increased hypertension risk.”
Among adults who ate two or more servings of red meat, chicken or fish a week, the risk of developing hypertension was 17 percent higher in those who grilled, broiled, or roasted the meat or fish more than 15 times per month, compared with fewer than four times per month.
The risk of hypertension was 15 percent higher in those who preferred their food well done, compared with those who preferred rarer meats.
“The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance in animal studies, and these pathways may also lead to an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure,” Dr. Liu said in a conference statement.
Registered dietitian and American Heart Association spokesperson Dr. Linda Van Horn from Northwestern University in Chicago said previous studies on this topic have mostly involved charbroiled red meat and have focused on the potential association with cancer.
This new study, she told Reuters Health by phone, “begins to suggest that grilling at high temperatures really does have some sort of inflammatory response in the blood system that basically then contributes to an increased risk of all kinds of chronic disease, not only cancer,” she said.
The study wasn’t designed to prove that eating meat and fish cooked a certain way causes hypertension.
Still, said Dr. Van Horn, “Speaking as a nutritionist, my caution would be not to cook foods to death. I think where we have problems is when people take a good thing too far and that is certainly true for almost everything in the world of nutrition. In this case, certainly this doesn’t say eat steak tartare and sushi the rest of your life, but rather more on the side of moderation, don’t grill it to death and if you do happen to get charring, you might consider cutting off those burnt spots as much as possible.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2pCdkOA AHA Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions, March 21, 2018.
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Hypertension and Nutrition
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels) which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is above the normal range. In most cases, no one knows what causes high blood pressure. What you eat can affect your blood pressure.
How does nutrition affect blood pressure?
- Certain foods can increase blood pressure.
- Certain foods can lower blood pressure.
- Gaining weight can increase blood pressure.
- Losing weight can reduce blood pressure.
What should I eat to control high blood pressure?
- Eat foods lower in fat, salt, and calories.
- Use spices and herbs, vinegar, lemon or fruit juices instead of salt to flavor foods.
- Use less oil, butter, margarine, shortening, and salad dressings.
What are some of the foods I should eat?
- Skim or 1% milk, yogurt, Greek yogurt (calcium-rich foods can lower blood pressure).
- Lean meat.
- Skinless turkey and chicken.
- Low-salt, ready-to-eat cereals.
- Cooked hot cereal (not instant).
- Low-fat and low-salt cheeses.
- Fruits (fresh, frozen, or canned without added salt).
- Vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned, no added salt).
- Richly colored green, orange, and red items are high in potassium and minerals that help lower blood pressure.
- The goal is 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- Plain rice, pasta, and potatoes.
- Breads (English muffins, bagels, rolls, and tortillas).
- Lower salt “prepared” convenience food.
Unsalted seeds (pumpkin, squash, sunflower) and unsalted nuts are mineral-rich foods that lower blood pressure.
What foods should I eat less of?
- Butter and margarine.
- Regular salad dressings.
- Fatty meats.
- Whole milk dairy products.
- Fried foods.
- Salted snacks.
- Canned soups.
- Fast foods.
- Deli meats.
What’s the difference between sodium and salt?
Salt is mostly sodium, a mineral that occurs naturally in foods. Sodium is the substance that may cause your blood pressure to increase. Other forms of sodium are also present in food. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is another example of a sodium added to food (common in Chinese food).
How does salt increase blood pressure?
When you eat too much salt, which contains sodium, your body holds extra water to “wash” the salt from your body. In some people, this may cause blood pressure to rise. The added water puts stress on your heart and blood vessels.
How much sodium is too much?
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake no more than 1,500 milligrams. (A teaspoon of salt has about 2,400 milligrams of sodium.) Most people greatly exceed these sodium guidelines.
How can I reduce my sodium intake?
- Don’t use table salt.
- Read nutrition labels and choose foods lower in sodium.
- Choose foods marked “sodium-free,” “low sodium,” and “unsalted.”
- Use salt substitutes (ask your healthcare provider first).
- Don’t use lite salt as a substitute.
- Read content labels. (Contents are listed in order of greatest amount.)
- Purchase sodium-free herbs and seasoning mixes like Mrs. Dash®.
What foods are high in sodium?
What else should I do to change my diet?
- Avoid alcohol.
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Eat foods high in dietary fiber (whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, fresh fruit, and vegetables).
Comparison of Sodium in Foods
Meats, poultry, fish, and shellfish
Food: Milligrams (mg.) sodium
Fresh meat, 3 oz. cooked: Less than 90 mg
Shellfish, 3 oz: 100 to 325 mg
Tuna, canned, 3 oz: 300 mg
Lean ham, 3 oz.: 1,025 mg
Food: Milligrams sodium
*Whole milk, 1 cup: 120 mg
Skim or 1% milk, 1 cup: 125 mg
*Buttermilk (salt added), 1 cup: 260 mg
*Swiss cheese, 1 oz: 75 mg
*Cheddar cheese, 1 oz : 175 mg
Low-fat cheese, 1 oz.: 150 mg
*Cottage cheese (regular), 1/2 cup: 455 mg
Food: Milligrams sodium
Fresh or frozen vegetables, and no-salt-added canned (cooked without salt), 1/2 cup: Less than 70 mg
Vegetables canned or frozen (without sauce), 1/2 cup: 55-470 mg
Tomato juice, canned, 3/4 cup: 660 mg
Breads, cereals, rice and pasta
Food: Milligrams sodium
Bread, 1 slice: 110-175 mg
English muffin (half): 130 mg
Ready-to-eat, shredded wheat, 3/4 cup: Less than 5 mg
Cooked cereal (unsalted), 1/2 cup: Less than 5 mg
Instant cooked cereal, 1 packet: 180 mg
Canned soups, 1 cup: 600-1,300 mg
Food: Milligrams sodium
Canned and frozen main dishes, 8 oz: 500-1,570 mg
*These can also be high in saturated fat, unless low-fat or reduced fat options are purchased.
*High in saturated fat.
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Does Eating Red Meat Increase Your Risk of High Blood Pressure?
If you haven’t been paying attention to your heart health, you’re well-advised to start now. Million of Americans every year are diagnosed with heart disease, and it’s still the No. 1 killer in the U.S. A variety of ailments can lead to an unhealthy heart — and once such condition you should be getting checked annually is your blood pressure.
To be clear, high blood pressure occurs when the current of your blood flow is too forceful. This then results in damage to the arterial walls — and it also causes your heart and blood vessels work harder to keep you going. You can see how this can then lead to heart failure, strokes, or other fatal issues.
If you’re in danger of developing high blood pressure (or if you already have it), you should watch your red meat consumption. Here’s how the two are connected.
The dangers of eating too much red meat
Well-done steak | rez-art/Getty Images
You’ve probably heard a lot of conflicting information on meat consumption. In truth, small portions in moderation may not affect your blood pressure. But Everyday Health notes a large clinical study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found eating processed and red meats not only increased mortality rates, but it also increased rates of cardiovascular disease.
As for how much you need to eat to raise your risk, the portion size was smaller than many thought. The study found consuming just 4 ounces of these meats was enough to cause harm. As for how it affects blood pressure, red meat’s high saturated fat and cholesterol content certainly doesn’t help here. And since high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are often linked, if you’re eating a lot of fatty meat products, you’ll want to get both levels checked.
Cooking meat at high temperatures may also contribute to high blood pressure
Cooking steak on the grill | Milkos/iStock/Getty Images
It turns out it’s not just the meat that’s the problem — it’s also how you cook it. Everyday Health notes new 2018 research found high blood pressure was associated with cooking meats at high temperatures. And Dr. Gang Liu, the study’s lead author, noted it wasn’t just red meat at high temperatures that was dangerous. Even chargrilled and fried chicken or fish could contribute to high blood pressure.
So, why does cooking meat at high temperature increase the risk of hypertension? The study found evidence that when cooked at high temperatures, meats create harmful chemicals that cause inflammation in the body. This could lead to high blood pressure if consumed regularly.
What you should eat instead
Kale | iStock.com
If you love meat and believe you should eliminate it completely from your diet, that’s not necessarily the case. Try for a lighter cook on all of your proteins to avoid creating harmful chemicals that not only raise your blood pressure but also raise your mortality and cancer risk. And if you’re currently eating red meat multiple times per week, aim to cut it down to just once or twice. This reduction in how frequently you indulge can make a huge difference.
There are plenty of foods you should be eating alongside your meat that can also help you combat hypertension. Whole grains, legumes, and nuts are all proven to be effective components in a diet that’s healthy for your blood pressure. And of course, fruits and veggies are key. Aim to eat plenty of leafy greens, like spinach and kale, as side dishes at the dinner table. And certain fruits, like berries and bananas, are shown to be more beneficial than others.
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