Too Much Red Meat: Why It's Bad For The Heart And Arteries

Among other negative health effects, excess red or processed meat is associated with an increased cardiovascular risk. But what exactly is going on?

The nutritional recommendations stress the need to limit the consumption of red or processed meat. It is not imperative to do without it, but it is important to eat (very) reasonable quantities of it: a maximum of 300 g of red meat (ideally less) and 30 g of processed meat (cold cuts) per week. Numerous studies have indeed demonstrated an association between an excess of red or processed meat and an increased risk of cancer (especially colon cancer), diabetes (T2D), as well as cardio and cerebrovascular disease and events. ( Stroke ).

Too Much Red Meat: Why It's Bad For The Heart And Arteries


The heart examined in detail

Regarding heart health, this British team (Queen Mary University of London) first recalls this link between red and processed meat and the risk of heart attacks, including myocardial infarction. Then, she explains that she wanted to examine the processes that these types of meat trigger on the cardiac and vascular level, in terms of anatomy and function. For this, the researchers used three approaches.

• Cardiac magnetic resonance, which visualizes with great precision the structures and functioning of the heart, in particular the volume and the pumping capacity of the ventricles.

• Radiomics, which combines medical imaging and artificial intelligence, and which has made it possible to process a considerable amount of detailed information on the shape and texture of the heart muscle.

• Examining the elasticity of blood vessels, knowing that flexible arteries are healthier than rigid arteries.

These examinations concerned some 20,000 adults, who also informed their eating habits. A whole series of other parameters were taken into account: age, sex, nutritional deficiencies, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, body mass index (BMI), etc.

An influence of the intestinal microbiota?

The crossing of this considerable amount of data leads to the observation that high consumption of red or processed meat results in the most negative measurements, within particular less efficient ventricles, a weakened heart function, and more rigid arteries, as many. 'indicators of unfavorable heart and cardiovascular health.

“This supports previous observations linking red and processed meat to cardiovascular disease while providing new insights into the processes that come into play,” say the specialists. This association is classically explained by an increase in blood pressure, an increase in cholesterol, diabetes, or weight gain ( obesity ). “Our study suggests that these factors play a role, but they don't tell the whole story,” the authors continue.

Further work will be needed to better understand this association, with specific attention to the gut microbiota (intestinal flora), like red and processed meat could stimulate the production of certain metabolites (organic compounds) that would harm the cardiovascular system. . Finally, it should be noted that the same analytical work was carried out with regard to the consumption of fatty fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel, salmon, etc.). And in this case, a (relatively) high consumption is associated with better cardiac and vascular parameters.

Too Much Red Meat: Why It's Bad For The Heart And Arteries


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