MAP comment on high consumption of red meat and stroke

The journal Stroke released new research today suggesting that high consumption of red meat is associated with a higher risk of stroke while poultry is associated with a reduced risk (12th January 2012) (1).

Dr Carrie Ruxton, dietitian and member of the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) said: “Red meat makes a significant contribution to intakes of iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin D and B vitamins and a number of nutrients beneficial for circulation and cholesterol (e.g. selenium, n-3 fatty acids, B vitamins). The Department of Health advises that lean red meat should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

“The findings of this new observational study are based on a long-term follow-up of US consumers who eat too much red meat (339g-510g per day). In contrast, the average total red meat consumption in the UK is 70 grams per day for adults (2). This figure is in line with the meat recommendations proposed by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) (3).

“The main problem with the Stroke study is that, because it was observational and not a controlled trial, it was impossible to account for other dietary factors that could increase the risk of stroke. It also lumped together fresh red meat – which is nowadays much lower in fat and saturated fat – and processed meat. A recent randomised controlled trial of people with pre-existing high cholesterol (4) found that including relatively high amounts of lean red meat (up to 153g/day) within a healthy, low saturated fat diet actually reduced cardiovascular risk factors, e.g. total and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, apolipoprotein A and B. This suggests that the overall diet is far more important than how much lean red meat you consume.”


Notes to editors:  

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(1) Bernstein AM et al. (2012) Dietary Protein Source and the Risk of Stroke in Men and Women. Stroke. January 2012.
(2) Henderson L et al. (2003) The National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Adults Aged 19-64 Years. Volume 3 Vitamin and mineral intake and urinary analytes. London, The Stationery Office.
(3) SACN (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition). (2010). Report on Iron and Health.
(4) Roussell MA et al. (2012) Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet study: effects on lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins. Am J Clin Nutr 95, 9-16.