Epidemiologic evidence suggests that relationships of red meat consumption with risk of cardiovascular diseases depends on whether or not the meat is processed, including addition of preservatives, but evidence is limited for blood pressure (BP).
To examine cross-sectional associations with BP of unprocessed and processed red meat and poultry consumption, total and by type, using data from the INTERnational study on MAcro/micronutrients and blood Pressure.
INTERnational study on MAcro/micronutrients and blood Pressure included 4680 men and women ages 40–59 years from 17 population samples in Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States. During four visits, eight BP measurements, four multipass 24-h dietary recalls, and two timed 24-h urine samples were collected.
Average daily total unprocessed/processed meat consumption (g/1000 kcal) was 20/5 in East Asian and 38/21 in Western participants. Unprocessed meat intakes comprised red meat for 75% in East Asian and 50% in Western participants. In Westerners, multiple linear regression analyses showed SBP/DBP differences for total unprocessed red meat consumption higher by 25 g/1000 kcal +0.74/+0.57 mmHg (P = 0.03/0.01) and for unprocessed poultry of +0.79/+0.16 mmHg (P = 0.02/0.50). Unprocessed red meat was not related to BP in East Asian participants. In Westerners, SBP/DBP differences for processed red meat higher by 12.5 g/1000 kcal were +1.20/+0.24 mmHg (P < 0.01/0.24), due to consumption of cold cuts and sausages (+1.59/+0.32 mmHg, P < 0.001/0.27).
These findings are consistent with recommendations to limit meat intake (processed and unprocessed) to maintain and improve cardiovascular health.