There are few things better than stuffing your face full of meat after a hard workout. After all, you need protein, and steaks, burgers, and sausages are full of it. But you may want to back off on those char-grilled pieces of goodness the next time you’re planning your post-workout meal.
According to an article published in Reuters, eating meat that’s charred or well-done, whether it’s from a land or sea animal, is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure.
“Among individuals who consume red meat, chicken, or fish regularly, our findings imply that avoiding the use of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling/barbecuing, broiling, and roasting, may help reduce hypertension risk,” Dr. Liu told Reuters Health by email.
He suggested that previous studies which linked mainly red meat to increased hypertension failed to consider how the dishes were prepared.
“Although some studies have suggested that higher intake of red meat, especially processed red meat, is associated with higher risk of hypertension, the associations of chicken or fish intake with hypertension risk remain inconsistent,” he explained. “These previous studies did not take into account one important factor – different meat cooking methods.”
Dr. Liu tested 86,777 women and 17,104 men in total across three different long-term studies. The participants had no prior history of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, and regularly ate beef, poultry or fish. With follow-ups done after 12 to 16 years, Dr Liu found that people had a 17 percent higher chance of getting hypertension if they broiled, grilled, or roasted meat more over 15 times per month, as opposed to fewer than four times per month.
“The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance in animal studies, and these pathways may also lead to an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure,” Dr. Liu said in a conference statement.
Dr. Linda Van Horn, a registered dietitian and American Heart Association spokesperson, said that past studies focused primarily on the risk of cancer, whereas Dr. Liu’s studied seemed to suggest a link to “an inflammatory response in the blood system” which contributes to other diseases and not just cancer.
“Speaking as a nutritionist, my caution would be not to cook foods to death. I think where we have problems is when people take a good thing too far and that is certainly true for almost everything in the world of nutrition. In this case, certainly this doesn’t say eat steak tartare and sushi the rest of your life, but rather more on the side of moderation, don’t grill it to death and if you do happen to get charring, you might consider cutting off those burnt spots as much as possible.”
Hear that guys? The next time you order roast and barbecued meats, try to resist nibbling on the burnt bits even though they taste so good.
By Gilbert Wong, Men’s Health Content Producer