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Meat link to cardiovascular disease

Thursday August 26th 2021

Meat may be a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease – rather than dairy products, according to a major new study.

A study of more than 100,000 individuals, which is being presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2021, found that there were no clear associations between total saturated fat and cardiovascular disease outcomes.

However, consuming 5% higher total energy from saturated fat from meat was associated with 19% and 21% elevated risks of total cardiovascular disease and heart disease, respectively.

However, the associations did not remain significant after accounting for BMI , suggesting that eating meat and obesity may be interlinked.

The study suggests a positive link between dairy products and cardiovascular health – although this was complicated by the link to body mass index.

Study author Dr Rebecca Kelly of the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, UK said: “The association seen between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease risk in observational studies has previously been unclear; our findings are important because they provide a possible explanation – that the relationship may vary depending on the food source.

“We found that saturated fat from meat may be associated with a higher risk than other food sources – in part because those consuming large amounts of meat also had a higher body mass index (BMI) than low consumers.”

The study examined how saturated fat from various foods relates to ischaemic heart disease, stroke, and total cardiovascular disease and included 114,285 UK Biobank participants, none of whom had cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.

Participants completed dietary assessments, which asked them to record what they ate the day before to estimate their usual intake of total saturated fat and saturated fat from different food types.

They also completed a detailed lifestyle questionnaire and had blood samples and body measurements taken.

The researchers tracked participants for about 8.5 years, using information from linked hospital and death records to find out if they developed cardiovascular disease. During the follow-up period, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and stroke occurred in 4,365, 3,394 and 1,041 participants, respectively.

Dr Kelly said: “Our results suggest that differences in BMI may be responsible, in part, for the association between cardiovascular disease and saturated fat from meat.

“It is not possible to determine whether this is because of a specific impact of saturated fat from meat on BMI or because those with a higher BMI consume more meat.

“In addition, it is difficult to fully disentangle whether part of the effect of saturated fat on cardiovascular disease may be through higher LDL cholesterol in this cohort because cholesterol-lowering medication use is high in UK adults.”

The authors recommend following the dietary guidelines that advise consuming less than 10% of daily energy from saturated fat.

Abstract: Associations between saturated fatty acids from different dietary sources and cardiovascular disease risk in 114,285 UK Biobank study participants.

Tags: Diet & Food | Heart Health | UK News

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