Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 145-148

First online:

Red Meat Intake and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

  • Adam M. BernsteinAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health Email author 
  • , Walter C. WillettAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public HealthDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthChanning Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

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Despite a wealth of research on cholesterol and saturated fat and cardiovascular disease (CVD), few studies have examined the association between red meat and CVD. We review the epidemiologic data on the relation between red meat intake and CVD. From observational studies over the past 25 years, we conclude that both unprocessed and processed red meat increase the risk of coronary heart disease and that processed red meat likely confers a greater risk. Data on the relation of red meat with stroke is limited, but also suggests an increased risk. As dietary iron, added sodium, and compounds created during cooking may contribute to these associations, simply choosing lean red meats may not reduce the risk of CVD. Clinicians may consider recommending that patients decrease or eliminate red meat from their diet and replace it with healthier protein sources such as nuts, fish, poultry, or low-fat dairy products.


Diet Nutrition Protein Meat Red meat Cardiovascular disease Stroke Coronary heart disease