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Red meat consumption linked with hypertension

Eating red meat, the major food source of haem iron, has been found to be directly associated with higher blood pressure.

In contrast, non-haem iron has a possible role in the prevention and control of high blood pressure levels, say researchers in a study published online in the BMJ.

Using data for 4,680 adults, aged 40 to 59 years, from Japan, China, the UK and the US, researchers investigated associations of dietary iron intake (total, haem and non-haem), consumption of red meat and of iron supplements with blood pressure.

They found that total intake of iron from food was consistently inversely related to blood pressure. However, when total dietary iron was separated into haem and non-haem components, non-haem intake was inversely related to blood pressure whereas haem iron demonstrated a mainly positive, although non-significant, weak association. Red meat intake was independently associated with blood pressure — a 102.6g/24h higher intake of red meat was associated with 1.25mmHg higher systolic blood pressure.

The finding that iron intake from combined diet and supplements yielded smaller associations than dietary iron alone may have implications, say the researchers. “It has been shown that with daily iron supplementation, iron absorption in healthy people was adapted by decreasing the absorption of non-haem iron (but not haem iron) from food. . . . Self supplementation of iron should be discouraged without clinical assessment of iron status,” they conclude.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10024544

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