Does Eating Red Meat Increase Your Risk of High Blood Pressure?

If you haven’t been paying attention to your heart health, you’re well-advised to start now. Million of Americans every year are diagnosed with heart disease, and it’s still the No. 1 killer in the U.S. A variety of ailments can lead to an unhealthy heart — and once such condition you should be getting checked annually is your blood pressure.

To be clear, high blood pressure occurs when the current of your blood flow is too forceful. This then results in damage to the arterial walls — and it also causes your heart and blood vessels work harder to keep you going. You can see how this can then lead to heart failure, strokes, or other fatal issues.

If you’re in danger of developing high blood pressure (or if you already have it), you should watch your red meat consumption. Here’s how the two are connected.

The dangers of eating too much red meat

Well-done steak | rez-art/Getty Images

You’ve probably heard a lot of conflicting information on meat consumption. In truth, small portions in moderation may not affect your blood pressure. But Everyday Health notes a large clinical study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found eating processed and red meats not only increased mortality rates, but it also increased rates of cardiovascular disease.

As for how much you need to eat to raise your risk, the portion size was smaller than many thought. The study found consuming just 4 ounces of these meats was enough to cause harm. As for how it affects blood pressure, red meat’s high saturated fat and cholesterol content certainly doesn’t help here. And since high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are often linked, if you’re eating a lot of fatty meat products, you’ll want to get both levels checked.

Cooking meat at high temperatures may also contribute to high blood pressure

Cooking steak on the grill | Milkos/iStock/Getty Images

It turns out it’s not just the meat that’s the problem — it’s also how you cook it. Everyday Health notes new 2018 research found high blood pressure was associated with cooking meats at high temperatures. And Dr. Gang Liu, the study’s lead author, noted it wasn’t just red meat at high temperatures that was dangerous. Even chargrilled and fried chicken or fish could contribute to high blood pressure.

So, why does cooking meat at high temperature increase the risk of hypertension? The study found evidence that when cooked at high temperatures, meats create harmful chemicals that cause inflammation in the body. This could lead to high blood pressure if consumed regularly.

What you should eat instead

Kale |

If you love meat and believe you should eliminate it completely from your diet, that’s not necessarily the case. Try for a lighter cook on all of your proteins to avoid creating harmful chemicals that not only raise your blood pressure but also raise your mortality and cancer risk. And if you’re currently eating red meat multiple times per week, aim to cut it down to just once or twice. This reduction in how frequently you indulge can make a huge difference.

There are plenty of foods you should be eating alongside your meat that can also help you combat hypertension. Whole grains, legumes, and nuts are all proven to be effective components in a diet that’s healthy for your blood pressure. And of course, fruits and veggies are key. Aim to eat plenty of leafy greens, like spinach and kale, as side dishes at the dinner table. And certain fruits, like berries and bananas, are shown to be more beneficial than others.

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