Red meat is a dietary staple that health experts often advise limiting for various health reasons. Researchers continue to investigate the potential benefits and health risks associated with different levels of red meat consumption.
In a recent study focused on unraveling the intricate relationship between red meat and inflammation, the findings suggest that red meat may not directly contribute to inflammation when factors such as body mass index (BMI) are taken into account. These findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
This study was a cross-sectional analysis, using data from participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). It included individuals aged between 45 and 84, with a final analysis comprising 3,638 participants. The researchers collected data from MESA food frequency questionnaires and gathered information on height, weight, and other variables such as smoking, physical activity, education, age, gender, and household income.
The researchers examined participants’ consumption of both processed and unprocessed red meat and how it correlated with specific markers of inflammation. They also considered plasma metabolites, which reflect the effects of diet after food is processed, digested, and absorbed, and how these metabolites relate to inflammation markers.
The study’s results highlighted the significant role of participants’ BMI. When the researchers factored in BMI, they found no significant association between red meat consumption and inflammation markers, whether the meat was processed or unprocessed. However, when not accounting for BMI, there was an observed association between red meat consumption and inflammation.
One notable exception in the findings related to the metabolite glutamine. Higher levels of glutamine were associated with lower inflammation. The study showed that greater consumption of unprocessed red meat was linked to lower metabolite levels. Furthermore, higher glutamine levels were correlated with reduced C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, another inflammation marker. Nonetheless, the overall conclusion drawn by researchers remains that red meat consumption alone is not a major driver of inflammation.
Rick Miller, a dietitian not involved in the study, emphasized the connection between obesity and inflammation, shedding light on the significant role that BMI plays in this complex relationship.