Red and processed meat, how much can I eat a week?

After a controversial study published last fall that said it was not necessary for people to change their diet in relation to red meat and processed meat, a new large and carefully analyzed study links the consumption of red and processed meat with a slightly higher risk of heart disease and death.

Eating two servings per week of red meat, processed meat or poultry is associated with a 3 l 7 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and 3% higher of all causes of death, according to a new study by Northwestern Medicine and the Cornell University of Chicago that publishes the journal ‘JAMA Internal Medicine’.

“It’s a small difference, but it’s worth trying to reduce red meat and processed meat like pepperoni, mortadella and sausages – warns the study’s lead author, Norrina Allen, associate professor of Preventive Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine of the Northwestern University – The consumption of red meat is also constantly related to other health problems such as cancer. “

“Modifying the intake of these foods with animal proteins can be an important strategy to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death at the population level,” said lead study author Victor Zhong, assistant professor of science Nutritionists at Cornell, who did the research when he was a postdoctoral fellow in Allen’s lab.

The new findings occur immediately after a controversial meta-analysis published last November that advised people not to reduce the amount of red meat and processed meat they eat. “Everyone interpreted that it was okay to eat red meat, but I don’t think that’s what science supports,” Allen warns.

“Our study shows that the link with cardiovascular disease and mortality is strong,” Zhong adds.

“Fish, shellfish and sources of protein of plant origin, such as nuts and legumes, including beans and peas, are excellent alternatives to meat and are consumed little in the United States,” recommends the study co-author. Linda Van Horn, Professor of Preventive Medicine at Feinberg, and also a member of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for 2020.

The study also found a positive association between poultry intake and cardiovascular disease, specifically a 4% higher risk of cardiovascular disease for people who ate two servings per week, but the evidence so far is not enough to make a Clear recommendation on the intake of poultry, Zhong admits, although as it may be related to the method of cooking the chicken and the consumption of the skin instead of the chicken meat itself, fried chicken is not recommended.

However, no association was found between eating fish and cardiovascular disease or mortality.

The new study gathered a large diverse sample of six cohorts, included long follow-up data of up to three decades, harmonized diet data to reduce heterogeneity, adjusted a comprehensive set of confounding factors and performed multiple sensitivity analyzes. The study included 29,682 participants (with a mean age of 53.7 years at the start of the study). Participants reported the diet data, who were asked for a long list of what they ate during the previous year or month.


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