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(Alleged) mechanism by which red meat -> hypertension?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 17, 2011 at 5:29 PM

As you are probably well aware, the conventional wisdom is that for people with high blood pressure, avoiding red meat is a good thing. This seems to be based largely on observational studies that show a correlation with "red meat" and hypertension.

(Yes, some of these studies are probably dubious because they fail to distinguish between real meat and processed meat products... but let that go for now.)

What is the (alleged) mechanism by which red meat intake would contribute to hypertension? For clarity, I guess my question is really two-fold:

1. What are the alleged mechanisms (in the conventional medical literature) by which red meat contributes to or causes hypertension?

2. Is there any truth to this hypothesis? We all know not to trust observational studies to establish cause and effect, but they are useful for generating hypotheses. Has anybody tested the "red meat and hypertension" link and found suggestive causal evidence, either pro or con?

5edbf85deaf83e13b176df023abb154d

(1293)

on March 17, 2011
at 08:12 PM

My BP has gone up since starting paleo from vegan BUT my iron tests all indicate iron levels well within normal ranges. As a vegan, my iron had dropped too low.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 17, 2011
at 07:54 PM

By that I mean... what is the mechanism by which heme iron allegedly contributes to hypertension?

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 17, 2011
at 07:50 PM

I'm not interested in any association studies. I am interested in mechanisms that have been tested.

7767e05a8c4504f6be03f13ee40815cd

(1299)

on March 17, 2011
at 06:58 PM

When BP was higher over winter break, I consumed slightly more sugar and occasional sushi, but significantly more dairy and significantly less fatty meat than I do now. I had been very low on sugar and sushi before, though, without the drop in BP - so I'm pretty sure it was the cheese and/or the meat.

7767e05a8c4504f6be03f13ee40815cd

(1299)

on March 17, 2011
at 06:56 PM

When BP was higher, I consumed slightly more sugar and occasional sushi, but significantly more dairy and significantly less fatty meat.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 17, 2011
at 06:51 PM

Did consuming more fatty red meat coincide with eating less fruit or sugar or grains?

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4 Answers

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Medium avatar

on March 17, 2011
at 05:40 PM

I would wager that the idea is that a diet high in purines would result in high levels of serum urates that would increase the risk of hypertension.

It's kind of silly, since fructose is a far more potent cause of hyperuricemia, and in any case it can be addressed with an increased ascorbate intake, which increases urate excretion.

Evidence doesn't really support it: http://www.ajcn.org/content/83/4/780.full

1
Medium avatar

(12379)

on March 17, 2011
at 05:40 PM

In many of the articles in the 'conventional medical literature' red meat is defined as: "the sum of hamburger, beef, or lamb as a main dish, pork as a main dish, beef, pork, or lamb as a sandwich or mixed dish, and all processed meat. Total processed meat was considered to be the sum of hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meat. Other processed meat included sausage, salami, and bologna." I don't think that you will find a strong argument from many people that many forms of the conventional 'red meat' are not particularly good for you. As well, it does not seem that any of the studies that I have read differentiate between types of the 'red meat'

'Red meat' as I see it is: pasture raised beef and lamb, and wild moose, deer, bison etc. It is not hot dogs or sandwich meats. I could not find any studies that single out 'paleo' red-meat. I would hazard a guess that a link between real (paleo) red meat and hypertension would not be found.

0
8f4ff12a53a98f3b5814cfe242de0daa

(1075)

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

I did a quick look.

The heme iron in red meat seems to be the primary reason, and high amounts of heme iron are associated with hypertension in broad studies.

http://www.squidoo.com/hypertension-diet

Doubtful that grassfed vs. conventional changes iron content, but the effect of the entire nutritional profile might be worth a difference. It could also tie back to how iron tends to be implicated in oxidative damage (and how anthocyanidins (blue antioxidants) from blueberrys and similiar are mostly active in terms of mitigating iron related damage in recent studies).

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 17, 2011
at 07:54 PM

By that I mean... what is the mechanism by which heme iron allegedly contributes to hypertension?

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 17, 2011
at 07:50 PM

I'm not interested in any association studies. I am interested in mechanisms that have been tested.

5edbf85deaf83e13b176df023abb154d

(1293)

on March 17, 2011
at 08:12 PM

My BP has gone up since starting paleo from vegan BUT my iron tests all indicate iron levels well within normal ranges. As a vegan, my iron had dropped too low.

0
7767e05a8c4504f6be03f13ee40815cd

(1299)

on March 17, 2011
at 05:55 PM

Anecdotally, I've found that my diastolic blood pressure only dropped to normal levels once I started consuming much more fatty red meat, although there are plenty of possible confounders (less cheese, etc).

7767e05a8c4504f6be03f13ee40815cd

(1299)

on March 17, 2011
at 06:56 PM

When BP was higher, I consumed slightly more sugar and occasional sushi, but significantly more dairy and significantly less fatty meat.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 17, 2011
at 06:51 PM

Did consuming more fatty red meat coincide with eating less fruit or sugar or grains?

7767e05a8c4504f6be03f13ee40815cd

(1299)

on March 17, 2011
at 06:58 PM

When BP was higher over winter break, I consumed slightly more sugar and occasional sushi, but significantly more dairy and significantly less fatty meat than I do now. I had been very low on sugar and sushi before, though, without the drop in BP - so I'm pretty sure it was the cheese and/or the meat.

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