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Grilling meat could raise your risk of high blood pressure, study says

Summer is approaching, which means the weather will be perfect for cookouts. But before you fire up the grill, beware. Barbecue may increase your risk of high blood pressure, according to a new report. 

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Researchers from the American Heart Association recently completed an assessment, presented at one of the organization’s meetings, that explored whether foods cooked at high temperatures affect blood pressure. 

To do so, they examined more than 100,000 people from various long-term health studies. They gathered information about the individuals’ cooking methods and the development of high blood pressure among those who regularly ate beef, poultry or fish. 

After analyzing the results, they found that none of the participants had high blood pressure, diabetes or cancer at the start of the program. However, about 37,000 of them had developed high blood pressure during the follow-up 12 to 16 years later.

When the scientists took a closer look, they discovered that those who reported eating two servings of red meat, chicken or fish a week were at higher risk for hypertension. 

The risk was 17 percent higher for people who grilled, broiled or roasted beef, chicken or fish more than 15 times a month, compared to those who did it less than four times a month. 

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Furthermore, the risk was 15 percent higher for those who liked their meats well-done as opposed to rarer. And high blood pressure risk was also higher for those estimated to have consumed the highest levels of heterocyclic aromatic amines, a chemical found on meats that are charred or exposed to high temperatures.

“The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures induce oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance in animal studies, and these pathways may also lead to an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure,” Gang Liu said in a statement

While they noted the trend does not prove cause and effect, they pointed out that oxidative stress, inflammation and insulin resistance can affect the inner lining of the blood vessels and cause atherosclerosis, which can narrow the arteries and lead to heart disease. 

“Our findings suggest that it may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure,” Liu said, “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/barbequing and broiling.”

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