Put down the snags! Study says processed meat is bad for your heart

Feb 05, 2020
Eating sausages could increase your heart disease risk. Source: Getty.

If you’re concerned about heart disease, you might want to bid farewell to good ol’ Aussie snags, as researchers from the US have found that eating both red, processed meat and chicken may increase your risk factor.

The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) was carried out by US researchers, who investigated the link between meat consumption and heart disease in 30,000 adults from six study groups in the US.

The researchers found that two servings of processed meat (meats that have been smoked, cured or preserved in some way) per week led to a 7 per cent increase rate of heart disease, compared to those who ate no meat. Whereas, for unprocessed meat (beef, pork or veal) the increase was 3 per cent, and for poultry 4 per cent. Additionally, they found that both red and processed meat increased total mortality by 3 per cent.

The study adds to a seemingly endless stream of research papers across the world constantly warning of the dangers of eating too much meat. But before you go ditching meat altogether, further experts have claimed the overall risks were small.

“The lifetime excess risk was small, although when it is applied across the whole population it still means fewer people getting heart disease or dying, very important if that life saved is yours,” Clare Collins from The University of Newcastle said.

“This paper provides support for moderating your unprocessed and red meat intake, while eating fish more often.”

Collins added you can reduce your meat intake by replacing it with legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas or dried beans. Australia’s current guidelines recommend limiting consumption to 455 grams per week, equivalent to around three average servings.

Meanwhile, nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said: “The overall increased risks were small and in studies such as this, a single picture of what someone reports eating ignores the fact that many people change their diet over the years. Cooking methods were also ignored, a possible problem for chicken which may be fried in a variety of fats, another factor that may also change over time.”

Stanton, added that the take-home message from the study is that it’s wise to limit consumption of red and processed meats, and probably chicken.

“For heart health, fish and seafood impose no apparent risk,” she added. “This all fits with existing dietary guidelines.”

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

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