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Apr 24, 2014 06:55 AM EDT

Increased Meat Consumption Elevates Risk of Coronary Heart Diseases, Study

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Heme iron, normally found in meat, poultry, and fish, increases the risk of coronary heart diseases by 57 percent, according to an Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington study. Researchers did not find evidence linking non-heme iron, found in plant foods and other non-meat sources, and coronary heart disease.

For the study, researchers examined 21 previous studies and data involving 292,454 participants during 10.2 years of follow-up.

"The observed positive association between heme iron and risk of CHD may be explained by the high bioavailability of heme iron and its role as the primary source of iron in iron-replete participants," the researchers said in a statement. "Heme iron is absorbed at a much greater rate in comparison to non-heme iron (37 percent vs. 5 percent). Once absorbed, it may contribute as a catalyst in the oxidation of LDLs, causing tissue-damaging inflammation, which is a potential risk factor for CHD."

According to Healthy Eating, iron is vital to life sustenance. Men should consume 8 milligrams of the mineral daily, while it is 18 milligrams for pre-menopausal women. Researchers said that the body can better control the absorption of iron from vegetable sources when compared to meat sources. Bleeding, donating blood or menstruation can reduce iron content in the body. Certain dietary choices like coffee and tea can slow down iron absorption.

The finding is published in the Journal of Nutrition.

According to National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, patients can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet. Being physically active can lower blood pressure and stress, control diabetes, pre-diabetes and weight.

Healthy diets should include lower levels of saturated fats (meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods), Trans fats (fried and processed foods), salt and sugar.

Both the types of fat increase Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol level. Alternatively, a low-salt diet helps control blood pressure while a low-sugar diet can help prevent weight gain and control diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Patients associated with high risk of CHD should consume fish, olive oil, whole grains, fruits and vegetables in higher amounts. Omega-3 acids found in fish and olive oil reduces the risk of heart attack by preventing blood clots. Fibre found in the remaining food items lowers LDL cholesterol level and provides necessary nutrients to prevent against CHD.

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