Meat might not be as good for you as you think: Northwestern study

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Meat might not be as good for you as you think: Northwestern study

Northwestern researchers found that consuming meat has a link to developing cardiovascular disease.

Northwestern researchers found that consuming meat has a link to developing cardiovascular disease.

Source: Northwestern Now

Northwestern researchers found that consuming meat has a link to developing cardiovascular disease.

Source: Northwestern Now

Source: Northwestern Now

Northwestern researchers found that consuming meat has a link to developing cardiovascular disease.

Vivian Xia, Reporter

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A new study from Northwestern Medicine and Cornell University found a link between red and processed meat consumption with a higher risk of heart disease and death.

The researchers found that for adults in the U.S., consuming larger portions of meat, as well as processed meat, unprocessed red meat or poultry was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality from the disease.

The Northwestern study was conducted through a meta-analysis, or combined analysis, of six diverse cohorts of people in the U.S, with the longest follow-up being nearly 30 years. There were nearly 30,000 participants in the pool, and the participants self-reported the data by answering a long list of questions about what they ate for the past year or month.

“This study used a rigorous design and analytical approach that took into account competing risks, heterogeneities across cohorts, confounding (data), missing data and others to make sure that our results are robust,” Cornell University assistant professor of nutritional sciences and lead study author Victor Zhong said.

The study also found that poultry was associated with a higher risk of the disease. However, it was not able to carefully evaluate the methodology used in preparing the poultry.

Linda Van Horn, Feinberg professor of preventive medicine and a co-author of the study, said she theorized that the chicken the participants reported to have eaten was most likely deep-fried chicken.

“Not the chicken but the deep fat-frying is likely a culprit in that process,” Van Horn said. “Because at that time, we were not aware that deep fat-frying would convert even an unsaturated fat to a trans fat.”

Van Horn added that grilled or roasted chicken or turkey, especially without the skin, would not have had the same result.

Fish was found to not be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and is in fact recommended by Zhong and Van Horn as an alternative to red and processed meat also because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to plant-based sources of protein, fruits and vegetables.

Van Horn said there is a concern that people in the U.S. are consuming too much meat, as it represents an average of about 42 percent of dietary protein consumed among adults, especially men, in the U.S. However, she also said the biggest concern is not what people are eating, but rather what they’re not eating.

“We’re eating high amounts of meat, red meat, processed meat (and) are not eating the things that are nutritionally advantageous like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which contribute vitamins, minerals, fiber and so many other benefits that are neglected by those who eat that kind of a diet,” Van Horn said.

The group hopes to further investigate the association between food preparation methods and cardiovascular disease, as that was one limitation of their study.

Additionally, there is only limited knowledge on the biological mechanisms behind the link between red and processed meat consumption and cardiovascular disease, so the group also hopes to better understand these mechanisms.

“I hope future studies can have data to investigate sorts of preparation methods,” Zhong said. “We do not yet fully understand the mechanisms linking meat consumption with the chronic diseases, so I hope future studies can help us better understand this association by investigating underlying biological mechanisms.”

Email: vivianxia2023@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @vivianxia7

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