And while its author has told GlobalMeatNews that consumers can still eat red meat, if it is lean, the report added that the higher the consumption, the greater the risk.
The report, released late November, follows other research linking strokes and high-protein diets. But this is more specific than some earlier studies and “helps solidify the evidence suggesting that red meat in particular may pose a danger”, according author Dr Bernhard Haring, of the Comprehensive Heart Failure Centre (CHFC), at the University of Würzburg, in Germany.
According to the study, which was based on data from diet questionnaires submitted by 11,000 middle-aged residents of the US aged 45 to 64, people who consumed the most red meat had a 47% higher risk of ischemic stroke (caused by blockages in blood vessels supplying the brain) than those who ate the smallest amount of red meat.
'Red meat OK'
The study covered five groups defined by how much protein, and what kind, the subjects consumed. The group that consumed the lowest amount ate about 49g of protein a day, while the top averaged 93g a day. The researchers said that protein from poultry, seafood or vegetable sources such as nuts and legumes did not lead to any added risk.
The survey had been confined to people who did not suffer from other stroke risk diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, and half of those surveyed had been analysed for about 23 years. There were no major differences in age, gender, or total calories consumed among participants who ate different amounts of protein, said the CHFC.
Speaking to GlobalMeatNews, Dr Haring said it was “OK to eat red meat – preferably lean meat – as long as you limit the amount”. He quoted a report from the American Heart Association that recommended that people limit lean meat, skinless chicken and fish to less than six ounces (about 170g) per day, in total.
Germans eat most processed meat
In general, red meats (beef, pork and lamb) contained more cholesterol and saturated fat than other protein sources, said Dr Haring. “Thus, if you choose to eat red meat, limit the amount, compare labels and choose lean cuts,” he said.
Dr Haring said there had not been any reaction so far to the CHFC findings from the German government nor from the meat industry. However, responding to the earlier World Health Organisation report claiming that processed meat was carcinogenic, the German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt said that people were being “wrongly unsettled” as a result.
Germans eat more processed meat than people in any other nation – on average 17.2kg each per year – and the country is also the leading meat producer in Europe.