Red meat raises heart attack risk

Aug. 19, 2010 at 12:57 AM

BOSTON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Eating red meat and processed meats like bacon sharply increased heart disease risk in women, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston suggest eating healthier protein-rich foods -- such as fish, poultry, low-fat dairy and nuts -- instead of red and processed meats, may reduce heart disease risk.

"There are good protein-rich sources that do not involve red meat," first author Dr. Adam Bernstein says in a statement. "You don't need to have hot dogs, hamburgers, bologna or pastrami, which are all fresh or processed meats."

The study, published in the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, finds women having two servings per day of red meat had a 30 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who had half a serving per day.

The risk of heart disease was lowered 30 percent when a daily serving of red meat was replaced by nuts. Another red-meat replacement -- fish -- lowered cardiac risk 24 percent and poultry reduced heart risk by 19 percent.

Bernstein and colleagues examined medical history and lifestyle -- including diet -- for 84,136 women, ages 30-55, enrolled the Nurses' Health Study from 1980 to 2006. During the 26-year period, the researchers documented 2,210 non-fatal heart attacks and 952 deaths from coronary heart disease.

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