A study of more than 100,000 American adults found that the odds of high blood pressure were a bit higher among people who like their meat grilled, broiled or roasted. They were 15 percent more likely to develop hypertension over 12 to 15 years.
In contrast, those who favored more temperate cooking methods did not develop high blood pressure. But the researchers said that the finding does not add to evidence that suggests for people to limit the amount of meat in their diet, but they should also pay attention to how the meat is cooked.
Gang Liu, the lead researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that their results imply the reduction of the amount of meat – particularly red meat – and avoiding the use of open flame or high-temperature cooking methods which could potentially aid in high blood pressure prevention, UPI reported. Other than red meat, the study included eating of grilled chicken or fish regularly, Today reported.
Linda Van Horn, the spokesperson of the American Heart Association, said that research suggested that cooking to the point of charring is the main issue. She said the process produces chemicals that are not normally present in the body. The chemicals include heterocyclic aromatic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Liu said that lab studies suggest that these chemicals can trigger inflammation within the body which can contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems. Other studies also say that people who eat a lot of well-done meat tend to face higher risks of certain cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Liu noted that the study is the first to look for a connection to high blood pressure which can lead to stroke.
Liu was slated to present the findings of the study on Wednesday at a heart association meeting in New Orleans. But studies presented at the gathering are considered generally preliminary until the report is published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The researchers based their findings on three long-term health studies of nearly 104.000 US health professionals who were all meat lovers and were free of high blood pressure and heart diseases at the outset. At that time, they gave detailed information about their diets and lifestyle habits.
However, over the next 12 to 16 years, over 37,000 study participants developed hypertension. Liu said that it turned out that the risk was higher among the participants who liked high-temperature cooking or well-done meat.
The researchers followed 32,926 women from the Nurses Health Study, 53,852 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II, and 17,104 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. At the start of the study, none of the participants had high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
Liu explained that the participants who grilled, broiled, or roasted their meat more than 15 times a month had a 17 percent greater risk of hypertension versus the participants who used those cooking methods fewer than four times a month.
The researchers found it similar when they compared fans of well-done meat with people who usually cook their meat rare. They acknowledged that there could be other differences between people who like well-done meat and those who prefer it rare.
Other factors too
The team accounted for many factors, including overall diet, smoking, exercise habits, and body weight.
Other than grilling, Liu said pan-frying and boiling at moderate temperatures and durations seem like potential healthier choices. Van Horn agreed with Liu that it is a prudent move to avoid charred meat. But she also stressed that overall diet and lifestyle habits are critical to having healthy blood pressure numbers.
She cited other recommendations to have lower blood pressure like the reduction of sodium intake, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise.
The researchers said that in eating at least two servings of red meat, chicken or fish, their risk of developing high blood pressure was 17 percent higher than people who used high-temperature cooking methods less than four times a month.
Those people who preferred their meat well done had a 15 percent higher risk of developing hypertension compared to people who preferred rarer meat.
Liu said that the chemical produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance in animal studies. These pathways may also lead to an elevated risk of developing hypertension.
She said that oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance affect the inner linings of blood vessels and are associated with the development of atherosclerosis which is the disease process that underlies heart ailments and causes the arteries to be narrow, Medical Xpress reported.
Liu said that their findings suggest that not eating food cooked well done and food cooked using open flame or high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling, barbecuing, and broiling may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
[researchpaper 리서치페이퍼=Vittorio Hernandez 기자]