A diet rich in this type of food can lead to a greater risk of heart disease

Trying to keep up with every new piece of dietary health information can be exhausting. There are seemingly endless discoveries being made each day regarding how the foods we eat influence our bodies, overall wellbeing, and longevity. 

No one’s diet is going to be perfect. After all, everyone needs a cheat day now and then. However, there are certain dietary health considerations that everyone should at least be aware of. 

Researchers from the University of South Australia just released a new study with one such piece of advice. After investigating the effect of cooked (grilled, seared, pan-fried, etc.) red or processed meat on the body, they conclude that regular consumption of such foods appears to be linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes complications.

This is undoubtedly bad news for all of the BBQ and grill lovers out there. From a taste perspective, cooking various red meats at high temperatures helps flush out robust flavor profiles. Unfortunately, it also creates more of a specific protein associated with cellular interference and cardiovascular issues.

“When red meat is seared at high temperatures, such as grilling, roasting or frying, it creates compounds called advanced glycation end products – or AGEs – which when consumed, can accumulate in your body and interfere with normal cell functions,” explains study co-author & UniSA researcher Dr. Permal Deo in a university release.

Even just the occasional steak or burger can significantly increase one’s daily AGE intake.

“Consumption of high-AGE foods can increase our total daily AGE intake by 25%, with higher levels contributing to vascular and myocardial stiffening, inflammation and oxidative stress – all signs of degenerative disease,” Dr. Deo adds.

This certainly isn’t the first time that red meat has been linked to less than ideal health outcomes, but these findings go a long way toward explaining why these meat products are so unhealthy. 

For the research, two different diets were tracked and assessed among a group of participants. One diet was very high in red meat and processed grains. The other diet was characterized by whole grains, nuts, legumes, and white meat (cooked by steaming, boiling, stewing, or poaching).

By the end of the analysis, individuals eating the red meat diet showed much higher levels of AGE in their blood. 

“The message is pretty clear: if we want to reduce heart disease risk, we need to cut back on how much red meat we eat or be more considered about how we cook it. Frying, grilling, and searing may be the preferred cooking methods of top chefs, but this might not be the best choice for people looking to cut their risk of disease,” co-researcher Peter Clifton, a professor at UniSA, notes. “If you want to reduce your risk of excess AGEs, then slow-cooked meals could be a better option for long-term health.”

For all of the answers this research provides, there are still several lingering questions. For instance, the research team is still unsure regarding the exact relationship between AGEs and long-term health issues.

So, the next time you’re eying that 32 oz. steak on the menu, at least consider opting for a chicken, seafood, or salad dish. Your taste buds may be disappointed but your heart will thank you in the long run.

The full study can be found here, published in Nutrients.