Processed red meat is not good for heart, according to a new study that linked regular consumption of cold cuts and sausages to heart failure and death in men.
Nearly 37,035 men, part of the Cohort Swedish Men Study, were selected for the analysis. All men, aged between 45 and 79, had no history of any deadly conditions including heart disease, heart failure or cancer.
At the beginning of the study, all of the participants provided details about their lifestyle, mainly food habits. They completed a 96-item questionnaire that measured their consumption of both processed (sausages, cold cuts, blood puddings, liver pate) and unprocessed meat products (pork and beef hamburger or ground minced meat).
During the 1998 to 2010 follow- up period, nearly 3000 men suffered heart failure and 266 died from it.
Researchers found a direct link between processed red meat consumption and heart failure. Eating as much as 75 grams of processed red meat per day was associated with 28 percent increased risk of heart failure in men, compared to lower intake (25 grams). Participants who ate more processed red meat had two-fold higher risk of death from heart failure compared to men in the other category. Each 50 gram additional intake per day increased the risk of heart failure and death by eight and 38 percent respectively. Eating of unprocessed meat was not associated with any heart risk.
While making ham, salami, sausage, bacon and hot dogs, meat undergoes different procedures like smoking, curing, salting and adding of preservatives, researchers, while explaining the link between heart risk and processed red meat, said.
"Processed red meat commonly contains sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives, and smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which may contribute to the increased heart failure risk," Senior author of the study, Alicja Wolk, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, said in a news release. "Unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually has a lower amount of sodium."
Concerned with the findings, researchers urged men to limit their unprocessed meat intake and to include healthier options like lean meat, poultry without skin, oily fish into their daily diet.
"To reduce your risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, we suggest avoiding processed red meat in your diet, and limiting the amount of unprocessed red meat to one to two servings per week or less," lead author of the study, Dr Joanna Kaluza, from Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland, said. "Instead, eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts and increase your servings of fish."
The findings, reported in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, come at a time when every year, heart –related diseases kill 17.3 million people across the world. A World Health Organization (WHO) report shows that by 2030, nearly 23.3 million people will die every year from cardiovascular diseases or disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure are included in the list.