4. Grilling and Such High-Temperature Cooking Increases
the Risk of High Blood Pressure

Grilled or well-done beef, chicken or fish can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure in those who regularly eat such foods, according to a research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018.

Researchers analyzed the data from the participants of three long-term studies viz. Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. None of the participants had high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer when they enrolled, but many developed high blood pressure during an average follow-up of 12-16 years.

The cooking methods and the development of high blood pressure in these people who regularly ate beef, poultry or fish were assessed. A relationship was noted between cooking temperature, method, doneness, and high blood pressure, independent of the amount or type of food consumed. Among participants who reported eating at least two servings of red meat, chicken or fish a week, the analysis revealed that the risk of developing high blood pressure was:

  • 17 percent higher in those who grilled, broiled, or roasted beef, chicken or and fish more than 15 times/month, compared with less than 4 times a month.
  • 15 percent higher in those who prefer their food well done, compared with those who prefer rarer meats.
  • 17 percent higher in those estimated to have consumed the highest levels of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) -- chemicals formed when meat protein is charred or exposed to high temperatures -- compared to those with the lowest intake.

"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 the lead author of the study, Gang Liu, Ph.D., a Postdoctoral research fellow at Department of nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston.

Oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance affect the inner linings of blood vessels and are associated with the development of atherosclerosis. "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.

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