Otherwise-healthy adults who eat two or more servings of meat a day – the equivalent of two burger patties – increase their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 25 percent compared with those who eat meat twice a week, according to research published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including elevated waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels. The presence of three or more of the factors increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
But it’s not just meat that adds inches to the waist, increases blood pressure and lowers HDL – “it’s fried foods as well,” said Lyn M. Steffen, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., co-author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.
Dairy products, by contrast, appeared to offer some protection against metabolic syndrome.
Steffen said that, “Fried foods are typically synonymous with commonly eaten fast foods, so I think it is safe to say that these findings support a link between fast-food consumption and an increase in metabolic risk factors.”
The findings emerged from an analysis of dietary intake by 9,514 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study. ARIC is a collaborative study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
American Heart Association dietary guidelines for healthy Americans age 2 and older include:
Limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium in the diet.
Minimize the intake of food and beverages with added sugars.
Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole-grain foods.
Select fat-free and low-fat dairy.
Eat fish at least twice per week.
Emphasize physical activity and weight control.
Avoid use of and exposure to tobacco products.
Achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
Co-authors are Pamela L. Lutsey, M.P.H., and June Stevens, Ph.D., M.S., R.D.
Source: American Heart Association, USA