Globally coronary heart diseases (caused by narrowed arteries that supply the heart with blood) claim nearly nine million lives each year1, the largest of any disease, and present a huge burden to health systems. Until now, it has been unclear whether eating meat increases the risk of heart disease, and if this varies for different kinds of meat.
Researchers at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health have conducted the largest systematic review of the prospective evidence to date, including thirteen cohort studies involving over 1.4 million people. The study participants completed detailed dietary assessments, and their health was tracked for up to 30 years. The results are published today in Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
Overall, the evidence from the analysis indicated that:
- Each 50 g/day higher intake of processed meat (e.g. bacon, ham, and sausages) increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 18%.
- Each 50 g/day higher intake of unprocessed red meat (such as beef, lamb and pork) increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 9%.
- There was no clear link between eating poultry (such as chicken and turkey) and an increased risk of coronary heart disease.