Skip to content

Eating Too Much Red Meat Increases Your Stroke Risk

The researchers say you can still eat red meat, although you should consider cutting back on your intake.
PIN Print

Although your weight loss and workout routine may call for a diet with red meat because it's a rich source of belly-flattening protein, new research shows just how mind-blowing the connection is to strokes. The numbers are staggering for both men and women, but the worst is for meat-eating males.

According to a study from the University of Wurzburg in Germany, men who consume about 3.3 ounces of red meat each day (that's a little bigger than the size of your computer mouse) have a 62 percent higher risk of experiencing a life-threatening ischemic stroke than those who consume about 1.7 ounces. An ischemic stroke occurs when the blood vessels that supply the brain with blood become blocked by excess protein, forming a clot and depriving the brain of oxygen and other nutrients. Consuming this protein from red meat increases the chance a person will experience this blockage, whereas protein from poultry, seafood, or vegetable protein sources like nuts and legumes does not.

How the study found the link between red meat consumption and risk of stroke.

To assess the link between protein and stroke risk, lead researcher Dr. Bernard Haring and his colleagues analyzed dietary protein intake data and self-reported food frequency questionnaires of middle-aged Americans who didn't exhibit common risk factors for strokes like diabetes or heart disease. The study was initiated in the year 1987 and the participants were followed until 2011 to see how many of them suffered strokes. During this 23 year span, 699 strokes were reported among the 11,601 participants.

To see if protein consumption was linked to stroke risk, researchers compared those who consumed the lowest average of protein a day, 1.7 oz, to those who consumed the highest, 3.3 oz, with their incidence of strokes. They found that the risk of strokes was a shocking 41 percent higher for the men and women who consumed highest amount of red meat. For the most common form of stroke, ischemic, that risk was actually 47 percent. Take women out of the equation and the risk was 62 percent higher for men specifically. When rethinking your meal-to-meal choices, be sure to first check out the daily habits that burn belly fat.

Does this mean you shouldn't eat red meat at all?

Keep calm, carnivores. Because the study was based only on naturalistic observation, researchers have no control over the variables, nor predictions as to how changing your diet might help reduce the risk of future strokes. If you're going to eat red meat, just do it in moderation: "It's ok to eat red meat – preferably lean red meat – as long as you limit the amount," Dr. Haring affirmed.

Eat This! Tip

One way to cut back on red meat is to replace your usual meat-based protein sources with vegetarian protein sources. Vegan, plant-based protein also happens to be higher in satiating and gut-healthy fiber. Add a scoop of vegan protein powder to a smoothie in the morning. Try one of these best smoothie recipes for weight loss, courtesy of Zero Belly Smoothies.

2.5/5 (11 Reviews)
Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is the Managing Editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more about Olivia