Grilled Fish and Meat Could Increase Risk of Hypertension, New Study Suggests

Grilled Fish and Meat Could Increase Risk of Hypertension, New Study Suggests

New research suggests that there is a connection between eating grilled fish, chicken, or beef well-done and an increased risk of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

Reported by Reuters Health, the study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“Although some studies have suggested that higher intake of red meat, especially processed red meat, is associated with higher risk of hypertension, the associations of chicken or fish intake with hypertension risk remain inconsistent,” lead researcher Dr. Gang Liu explained the reason behind the study in an email. “These previous studies did not take into account one important factor – different meat cooking methods.”

In order to determine the potential effects of cooking method on high blood pressure, Dr. Liu and colleagues conducted three long-term studies with 32,925 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, 53,852  women in the Nurses’ Health Study II, and 17,104 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. According to Reuters, “none of the participants had hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer at the start, but 37,123 people developed hypertension during an average follow-up of 12 to 16 years.”

The study found that “a higher frequency of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking and a preference for higher meat doneness level were both independently associated with an increased hypertension risk.” 

Among adults who consume two or more servings of red meat per week, the risk of developing hypertension was 17 percent higher for those who prefer to grill, broil, or roast. The risk jumps up by 15 percent higher for those who like to eat meat that is well-done.

Dr. Liu presented the findings at the American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans last week, concluding that, “Among individuals who consume red meat, chicken, or fish regularly, our findings imply that avoiding the use of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling/barbecuing, broiling, and roasting, may help reduce hypertension risk.”

When asked about the study, registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Heart Association, Dr. Linda Van Horn told Reuters Health that the study “begins to suggest that grilling at high temperatures really does have some sort of inflammatory response in the blood system that basically then contributes to an increased risk of all kinds of chronic disease, not only cancer.”

What this study fails to address is the research that has been conducted and supported by health experts and organizations: that a plant-based diet is one of the best ways an individual can reduce the symptoms of many chronic health issues such as some forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. A study by the American Heart Association found that a vegan diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by almost 50 percent compared to eating meat.