The results of a study of over 100,000 people spanning 12-16 years looking at the intake of grilled and well-done beef, fish and poultry revealed that the risk of developing high blood pressure was 17% greater among those who ate these foods grilled more than 15 times per month as compared to those who ate them less than 4 times per month. Similarly, those who ate well-done beef, poultry and fish had a 15% greater risk of high blood pressure compared to those who ate these foods cooked less.
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Hypertension or high blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. With no early symptoms, high blood pressure it silently damages the blood vessels feeding these vital organs. It’s long been known that our diets play a role in the development of high blood pressure, specifically foods high in sodium. This latest research suggests that not only is the type of food we eat a contributing factor, but also the way we cook the food.
Grilling and charring meat from cooking it at high temperatures causes chemicals - heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs)- to form. From animal studies, we know these chemicals trigger inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance. The study author suggests that these physiologic effects may lead to high blood pressure because they all affect the lining of the arteries which is the underlying problem in cardiovascular disease.
So, what can you do minimize your risk of developing high blood pressure? Plenty!
The Centers for Disease Control offers these lifestyle suggestions:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get 2.5 hours of physical activity a week
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day for men, 1 drink for women
- Eat a healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, low in sodium and high in potassium.
Sodium intake should be no more than 2300 mg a day (or the amount of sodium in one teaspoon of salt) and potassium intake should be about 4,700 mg a day obtained from the foods you eat Word of caution – only take potassium supplements if they are prescribed by your health care provider. High levels of potassium can lead to irregular heart rhythms and cardiac arrest.
Based on the research above, limiting your intake of grilled and well-done beef, fish and poultry to no more than once a week, may also help.
For more information see:
Food sources of potassium
Preventing high blood pressure