Regular Consumption of Grilled Meat May Increase the Risk of High Blood Pressure

by Shravanthi Vikram on Mar 22 2018 3:09 PM
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  • High consumption of grilled meat may increase the risk of high blood pressure.
  • Chemicals called HAAs (heterocyclic aromatic amines) are produced when meat is grilled or exposed to high temperatures.
  • Atherosclerosis is a condition which narrows the arteries and causes heart disease
Risk of high blood pressure may increase in people who regularly consume grilled beef, chicken or fish meat, finds a study. The findings of the study were presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018. .
Scientists analyzed the relationship between cooking methods and development of high blood pressure in people who regularly ate beef, poultry or fish. Studies were conducted in various groups: 39,295 women took part in the Nurses’ Health Study, 53,852 women participated in Nurses’ Health Study II and 17,104 men participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The detailed cooking information was collected from the studies. None of the participants who took part in the study had high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer but 37,123 individuals developed high blood pressure during an average follow-up of 12-16 years. .

Among participants who reported eating at least two servings of red meat, chicken or fish a week, the analysis revealed that the risk of developing high blood pressure was:
  • 17% higher among those who ate grilled meat for more than 15 times a month compared to individuals who ate less than 4 times a month.
  • 15% higher in individuals who ate well done meat compared to those who preferred rarer meats.
  • 17% higher in people who consumed higher amounts of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), a chemical that is formed when meat is grilled or exposed to higher temperatures. The percentage was less in people who consumed fewer amounts of HAAs.
Scientists analyzed that the relationship between cooking method, temperature and doneness of meat and high blood pressure was independent of the type or amount of food consumed.

"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," said Gang Liu, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. .

The inner linings of the blood vessels were affected by oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance and lead to the development of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition which narrows the arteries and increases the pressure of blood.

This study only identifies the trend and does not prove cause and effect.The findings of the study were limited as it did not include certain types of meats (like pork and lamb) and cooking methods (such as stir-frying and stewing) and all the participants were mostly Caucasians.

"Our findings suggest that it may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure if you don’t eat these foods cooked well done and avoid the use of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling/barbequing and broiling," Liu said.

About High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure also known as hypertension, occurs when pressure of blood increases to unhealthy levels. This condition typically develops over a period of time due to narrowing of the arteries. The common symptoms of hypertension are headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and blood in urine.Risk factors associated with hypertension are obesity,smoking, alcohol intake, high cholesterol,stress and diabetes.