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Meat, fat, salt and the chest

Tuesday May 18th, 2010

Processed meat - such as bacon and sausage - is amazingly bad for the heart, researchers warned last night.

Simply eating steak or a joint of meat may not damage the heart or cause diabetes, according to a major new study.

But eating treated meat, such as bacon and sausage, is linked to a 42 per cent increased risk of developing heart disease. The risk of diabetes is increased by 19 per cent, according to the analysis published in the journal Circulation.

Experts said the explanation is probably that processed meat contains salt and other preservatives.

The findings give an unexpected clean bill of health to other kinds of red meat.

Victoria Taylor, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "The study didn't look at why processed meats were linked with heart disease and unprocessed meats weren't. However, they suggested this might have been due to the preservatives, like salt, added to processed meat.

"If you like red meat, this can still be included as part of a balanced heart healthy diet. Go for lean cuts and aim to cook from scratch using healthier cooking methods like grilling or baking. If you need to add flavour then try using fresh and dried herbs, spices and chillis instead of salt."

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts, USA, analysed thousands of pieces of research involving more than a million people to reach their conclusions.

* A second study published yesterday warns that people with asthma may suffer ill-effects from eating heavy, high-fat meals.

The Australian study says fatty meals were followed closely by dangerous inflammation of the lungs and potential asthma attacks.

The meal also seemed to limit the ability of asthma medication to relieve attacks.

The findings were being revealed at the conference of the American Thoracic Society in New Orleans, USA.

The high fat meals used for the study involved processed meat such as burgers and hash browns. Some 40 volunteers took part in the research.

Researcher Dr Lisa Wood, of the University of Newcastle, Australia, said: "This is the first study to show that a high fat meal increases airway inflammation, so this is a very important finding.

"The observation that a high fat meal changes the asthmatic response to albuterol was unexpected as we hadn't considered the possibility that this would occur."

Circulation, online May 17, 2010. DOI:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.924977

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Australia | Diabetes | Diet & Food | Heart Health | North America | UK News

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