If you’re the type who likes your steak well-done, it might be time to reconsider.
That’s because diners who go for this option are more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who tend to eat rarer meat, researchers have found.
Scientists believe cooking meat, chicken and fish over high temperatures releases chemicals that can raise blood pressure. Well-done meat is cooked for longer, meaning diners ingest more of these chemicals and therefore have a higher risk.
Their study found that eating well-done meat increased the likelihood of developing high blood pressure by 15 per cent. The team at Harvard University tracked more than 100,000 people for between 12 and 16 years. Of those who said they ate fish, chicken or red meat at least twice a week, participants who preferred their meat well-done were more likely to develop high blood pressure in the coming years. People who ate more grilled food were also at higher risk.
Those who ate food cooked at a high temperature or over an open flame more than 15 times a month were 17 per cent more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who ate it just once a week.
The researchers, whose work was presented at the American Heart Association’s annual lifestyle conference in New Orleans, said the participants were all healthy at the beginning of the study, but 37,000 developed high blood pressure over the next decade or so.
They said the link was down to heterocyclic aromatic amines – chemicals formed when meat protein is charred or exposed to high temperatures. These chemicals are thought to damage our body’s cells, and cause inflammation and insulin resistance.
This in turn affects the inner linings of blood vessels and can cause arteries to narrow.
Study leader Dr Gang Liu, of the department of nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said: ‘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, barbecuing and broiling.’
But he added: ‘The findings are limited because data came from questionnaires that did not include certain types of meats, such as pork and lamb, and certain cooking methods, such as stewing and stir-frying.’
Scientists are increasingly concerned about the risks of food cooked at high temperatures.
The Food Standards Agency last year released guidance warning people to consider eating mashed or boiled potatoes rather than roasted or fried.
The agency said the browning process releases the chemical acrylamide, which has been linked to cancer. It warned against eating burnt toast for the same reason.
© Daily Mail