Health warning for high-heat meat

Tuesday, 08 September, 2020

Health warning for high-heat meat

Culinary experts recommend high-heat caramelisation to boost the flavour of meat, but results from a recent study reveal that it could be bad for our health.

The University of South Australia (UniSA) study — conducted in partnership with Gyeongsang National University — found that consuming red and processed meat increased a protein compound that may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and complications in diabetes.

UniSA researcher Dr Permal Deo said the research provides important dietary insights for people at risk of such degenerative diseases.

“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,” Dr Deo explained.

“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.”

With results published in Nutrients, the study tested two diets: one high in red meat and processed grains; the other high in whole grains, dairy, nuts, legumes and white meat using steaming, boiling, stewing and poaching cooking methods.

The diet high in red meat significantly increased AGE levels in blood, suggesting it may contribute to disease progression.

UniSA co-researcher Professor Peter Clifton said while there are still questions about how dietary AGEs are linked to chronic disease, the research shows that eating red meat will alter AGE levels.

“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.

“If you want to reduce your risk of excess AGEs, then slow-cooked meals could be a better option for long-term health.”

Image credit: © Resnick

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