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Cooking red meat at high temperatures may increase the risk of heart disease, study finds

Consumers should be aware of how cooking methods could affect their health

Photo (c) Giang Nguyen - Getty Images
Recent studies have urged consumers to cut back on their red meat consumption, as even small quantities can negatively impact health outcomes

Now, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia has found that even certain cooking methods can affect consumers’ health when it comes to these foods. According to their work, cooking red meat at high temperatures releases certain compounds that can negatively affect heart health. 

“When red meat is seared at high temperatures, such as grilling, roasting, or frying, it creates compounds called advanced glycation end products -- or AEGs -- which when consumed, can accumulate in your body and interfere with normal cell function,” said researcher Dr. Permal Deo. “Consumption of high-AGE foods can increase our total daily AGE intake by 25 percent, with higher levels contributing to vascular and myocardial stiffening, inflammation, and oxidative stress -- all signs of degenerative disease.” 

Finding new cooking methods

To understand how different cooking methods could affect consumers’ heart health, the researchers had 51 participants try out two different diets over the course of two four-week periods. One diet utilized slower cooking methods and consisted primarily of white meat, whole grains, and nuts and legumes. The second diet included processed grains and more red meat that was cooked faster and at higher temperatures. 

After each four-week period, the researchers assessed the participants' health outcomes, paying particular attention to AGE levels and other proteins that could affect heart disease. 

The researchers learned that eating more red meat in general was associated with poorer health outcomes. However, it’s also important for consumers to note that the cooking method can play a big role. The researchers found that cooking red meat at higher heats changes its nutritional make-up and produces higher levels of AGE. 

“Frying, grilling, and searing may be the preferred cooking method of top chefs, but this might not be the best choice for people looking to cut their risk of disease,” said researcher Peter Clifton. 

Switching things up in the kitchen

Following a healthy diet is one of the key components of preventing heart disease. While many consumers may opt for alternatives to meat, the researchers recommend that consumers rethink how they typically do things in the kitchen. A new recipe could be effective in helping promote better heart health. 

“The message is pretty clear: if we want to reduce heart disease risk, we need to cut back on how much red meat we eat or be more considered about how we cook it,” said Clifton. “If you want to reduce your risk of excess AEGs, then slow cooked meals could be a better option for long-term health.” 

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