An alarming research indicates that men who regularly eat moderate amounts of processed red meat such as cold cuts (ham/salami), sausage, bacon and hot dogs are at higher risk of heart failure and death.

Processed meats are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. "Processed red meat commonly contains sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives, and smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which may contribute to the increased heart failure risk," claimed Alicja Wolk, a professor from the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually has a lower amount of sodium, Wolk added. "To reduce your risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, we suggest to avoid processed red meat and limit the amount of unprocessed red meat to one to two servings per week or less," explained Joanna Kaluza, an assistant professor at Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland.

"Eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts and increase your servings of fish," Kaluza added.

To reach this conclusion, researchers analysed a cohort of Swedish Men study that included 37,035 men 45-79 years old with no history of heart failure. Participants completed a questionnaire on food intake and other lifestyle factors in  1998.

After almost 12 years of follow-up, researchers found that heart failure was diagnosed in 2,891 men and 266 died from heart failure. Men who ate the  most processed red meat (75 grams per day or more) had a 28 percent higher risk  of heart failure compared to men who ate the least (25 grams per day or less) after adjusting for multiple lifestyle variables.

Men who ate the most processed red meat had more than a two-fold increased risk of death from heart failure compared to men in the lowest category. For each 50 gram (1-2 slices of ham) increase in daily consumption of processed meat, the risk of heart failure incidence increased by eight percent and the risk of death from heart failure by 38 percent, researchers noted.

The risk of heart failure or death among those who ate unprocessed red meat did not increase. Researchers said they expect to find similar associations in a current study conducted with women.

"For people who eat meat, choose lean meats and poultry without skin and eat fish at least twice  a week - preferably fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout and  herring," researchers concluded in an American Heart Association journal  Circulation: Heart Failure.

(Agencies)

Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk