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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can eating processed red meats daily increase the risk of heart disease?

    I have seen in recent news that there is a link between processed red meats and heart disease. Is this true? What research has been done? Does it mean I should completely eliminate processed red meat from my diet if heart disease runs in my family?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Rebecca Charlotte Reynolds, PhD (Dr Bec) Personable and ethical registered nutritionist (RNutr) and lecturer at UNSW Australia in lifestyle and health. Regular consultant to the … View Profile

    Hi there,

    Yes, there is some evidence that higher red meat intake is bad for some aspects of health, including heart disease.  Especially processed meats (more “bad stuff” in these = saturated fat, nitrates, salt…).  Often this evidence is association rather than direct causation, so it's not definitive. 

    A good rule is to limit processed meat as much as you can and eat lean cuts of red meat about 3-4 times per week (beef, pork, lamb…), heart disease family history or not.  Also try to buy free range meat that is locally produced = more ethical, e.g. RSPCA-approved pork:

    Read an interesting article on the topic via this page:

    Dr Bec

  • Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    To further add to Rebecca's response, processed meats generally contain high amounts of saturated fats and sodium (salt). Diet's high in saturated fat can lead to heart disease as this type of fat increases the LDL or bad cholesterol in the body. High salt diets can also lead to heart disease (because the body will hold onto more fluid) which can lead to high blood pressure. Over time if high blood pressure is not treated it can lead to a thickening of the artery walls as well as damage to the artery walls that can lead to blockages and even perforations.

     For more expert dietary advice on how to reduce your intake of processed meats I would recommend a consultation with an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). You can find one on the Dietitians Association of Australias website (

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