When it comes to heart health, red meats have always been shunned for their high fat content. Red meats like pork, beef, mutton and veal contain large amounts of saturated fatty acids, which cause the LDL (bad cholesterol) to shoot up and fill up the walls of blood vessels, which can lead to blockage of artery and heart attack. There are many non-vegetarians who are staunch lovers of red meat and it could be difficult for them to give up red meat entirely. The findings of a new study come as a relief for these people. The findings suggest that even by bringing down the consumption of red meat by half, you can reduce the risk of developing heart diseases.
The researchers at the University of Nottingham carried out some tests to determine if halving the intake of red meat could have a significant effect in reducing the cholesterol levels. Professor Andrew Salter, study author from the University of Nottingham's School of Biosciences, said, "With a high saturated fatty acid, content red and processed meat have been linked to heart disease, and other chronic diseases, particularly colon cancer. Studies have shown that in people who eat the most meat, there is a 40% increased risk of them dying due to heart disease."
The study roped in 46 people who were asked to reduce consumption of red meat for 12 weeks by replacing it with white meat, fish or a meat alternative or by reducing the intake of red meat itself by half. Their blood tests were taken at the start of the program and at regular intervals thereafter for the whole period. An average drop of 10% in LDL cholesterol was noticed in the participants.
"Meat is a rich source of the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) required for the manufacture of blood cells, and although it is possible to obtain these nutrients in plant-based diets, our results suggest that those reducing their meat intake need to ensure that their new diet contains a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, pulses and whole grains to provide these nutrients," stated Dr. Liz Simpson from the University of Nottingham's School of Life Sciences who is also the co-author of the study.