Latest Research Highlights: Red Meat Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

Published in British Medical Journal, 2020

Red Meat Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Among US Men

Laila Al-Shaar, Ambika Satija, Dong D Wang, Eric B Rimm, Stephanie A Smith-Warner, Meir J Stampfer, Frank B Hu, Walter C Willett

In controlled feeding studies, red meat consumption increases low density lipoprotein (LDL, i.e. bad cholesterol) compared with healthy plant protein sources. In several epidemiologic studies, high consumption of red meat, especially processed red meat, was associated with higher risk of mortality and major chronic diseases. Men are at higher risk of coronary heart disease. As such, we sought to examine red meat consumption and coronary heart disease within the HPFS cohort. During 30-years of follow-up of HPFS participants who were initially free of cardiovascular disease, 4,456 newly diagnosed cases coronary heart disease were documented. Compared to men with low intake of red meat, men with a higher intake of red meat were at 11-15% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. Substituting plant protein sources, such as nuts, legumes, and soy, for red meat was associated with 14-17% lower risk of CHD.  These findings support a health benefit for men to limit red meat consumption and to replace red meat with plant-based protein sources.