If you like your steak well done, you might want to take it easy on making that your go-to order. A recent study found a link between cooking meat at high temperatures and a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
The March 2018 research, presented at an American Heart Association meeting report, analyzed the cooking methods and development of high blood pressure in people who ate beef, poultry, or fish. This included 103,881 individuals total, with each one participating in a long-term study. During an average follow-up of 12 to 16 years, 37,123 of these folks eventually developed high blood pressure — and the results among these regular meat-eaters might surprise you.
Among people who said they ate at least two servings of meat per week, the analysis revealed that the risk of developing high blood pressure was 15 percent higher in those who prefer it well done, compared with those who prefer rarer meats. The risk was 17 percent higher in the people estimated to have ingested the highest levels of heterocyclic aromatic amines — chemicals formed when meat is charred or exposed to high temps — compared to those with the lowest intake. The risk was also 17 percent higher in those who grilled, broiled, or roasted their beef, chicken or and fish more than 15 times per month, compared with those who did so less than four times a month.
“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 lead author Gang Liu, Ph.D.
But before you start serving all your beef rare, it's worth keeping in mind that this study did not prove that cooking meat well done or in any other particular style causes high blood pressure; rather, the researchers found a connection between cooking meats at high temperatures and a risk of developing high blood pressure over a period of time. It's worthwhile to note that this study also has some limitations, especially because it didn't include all types of meats — for instance, pork and lamb were not factored in — or all different kinds of cooking styles, for that matter. And — we hope this goes without saying — always remember that some meats, like chicken, should always be cooked well done for the sake of the safety of the people eating it.
That said, it's always good to be mindful of how hot and how quickly you cook all your food, especially if you favor open-flame methods or if you like to whip out the grill or barbecue for your carnivorous cuts. If you have any concerns about your cooking methods, talk to your doctor about which one is appropriate for you. There's no such thing as a stupid question — especially if it relates to your health and well-being.
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