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Diet & Health

Eating Too Much Red Meat Increases Risk of Ischemic Stroke

Slab of red meat

Experts have long warned that eating too much red meat increases your risk of having a life-threatening stroke, especially an ischemic stroke, which results from a blockage in a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Ischemic strokes are the most common kind of stroke.

The protein found in red meat is the primary culprit and is what causes in the blockage.

According to German researchers, people who increase their intake of red meat have a 47 percent higher chance of getting an ischemic stroke than those individuals who consume less.

Dr Bernhard Haring of the University of Wurzburg in Germany told the Daily Mail:

“It’s ok to eat red meat — preferably lean red meat — as long as you limit the amount.”

The researcher and his colleagues looked at 11,000 middle-aged people (45-64 in age) who didn’t exhibit any risk factors for strokes, such as diabetes or heart disease, and followed half of them for 23 years. The participants were divided into 5 different groups based on their intake of protein and the kind that they consumed.

To assess the connection between protein and stroke risk, they reviewed data from questionnaires completed by people living in the US, aged 45 to 64, who they had followed from 1987 to 2011.

It was found that people with less protein consumption were less likely to be obese or take medications for lowering cholesterol than their meat-loving counterparts and more likely to have high school diplomas or a regular exercise routine. A staggering 699 strokes were recorded during a median follow-up of 22.7 years.

A high intake of processed meats (e.g. bacon, sausage and jerky), in particular, was linked to a 24 percent higher risk of strokes.

Looking at just the men, those who consumed a lot of red meat had a 62 percent higher risk than those who ate less.

Interestingly, while there are many different food sources rich in proteins, only red meat was tied to ischemic strokes. Protein from fish, poultry and vegetables like nuts and legumes was not associated with any added risk.

It’s worth noting that the study was limited by the fact that researchers only worked with data on protein consumption at two points in time, which might fail to account for changes in the eating habits of participants over the years or any other poor eating habits that increase the risk of strokes.

Even so, the findings support traditionally held beliefs that red meat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s probably time you cut back on the steak and hamburgers…

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