Regardless of whether it’s red meat, chicken, or even fish, high temperature cooking isn’t really good for you, a new study concludes.
In a new study, researchers analyzed the cooking methods and the development of high blood pressure in people who regularly ate beef, poultry or fish: 32,925 women taking part in the Nurses’ Health Study; 53,852 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II; and 17,104 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
All of the study participants were healthy when they joined in, but during a follow up 12-16 years later, 37,123 of them developed high blood pressure.
Researchers found that participants who routinely consumed grilled meat, chicken, or fish, were much more likely to develop high blood pressure. However, grilling wasn’t the only culprit here — other high-temperature cooking techniques, such as broiling or roasting, were also more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Researchers also noted that this happens regardless of how many fruits and veggies people consumed.
“The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance in animal studies, and these pathways may also lead to an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure,” said Gang Liu, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
The three elements Liu mentions (oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance), are also associated with the development of atherosclerosis, a disease which causes arteries to become narrowed by affecting the inner linings of blood vessels.
Specifically, researchers found people who ate at least two servings of red meat, chicken or fish a week that were grilled, broiled, or roasted, were 17 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure. They also found that people who preferred their food well done were even more likely to develop high blood pressure compared with those who prefer rarer meats.
Researchers advise people to avoid high-temperature cooking, if possible.
“Our findings suggest that it may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure if you don’t eat these foods cooked well done and avoid the use of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling/barbequing and broiling,” Liu said.
It’s important to note that the study only explored the correlation, and did not attempt to identify any cause-effect relationship. Another significant limitation of the study is that it doesn’t include certain types of meats (such as pork and lamb) and certain cooking methods (such as stewing and stir-frying). Also, because participants were all Caucasian and all working in the health system, results might not carry for other groups.
The American Health Association, which supported this study, suggests the following cooking resources:
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!