Does Red Meat Raise Your Blood Pressure?

Some meats are better for your blood pressure than others.
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Having high blood pressure puts you at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Smoking, being overweight, not exercising and being stressed can all increase your blood pressure. What you eat can affect your blood pressure as well, with some foods potentially decreasing your blood pressure and others, including red meat, potentially increasing it.

Red Meat and Blood Pressure

A study published in the "British Medical Journal" in 2008 found that red meat had an unfavorable effect on blood pressure, although the effect was very small. It isn't just red meat that may raise your blood pressure -- eating meat of any type is associated with an increased incidence of high blood pressure, according to a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in December 2005. If you have an increased risk for high blood pressure, you may want to follow a vegetarian diet, as this type of diet is associated with lower blood pressure, notes an article published in "JAMA Internal Medicine" in April 2014.

Conflicting Results

Not all studies on red meat have shown an increased risk for high blood pressure. A study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in April 2006 found that people with high blood pressure who replaced some of the carbohydrate-rich foods they ate with protein from lean red meat experienced reductions in their blood pressure levels. Both the control group and the higher-protein group ate about the same amount of fat.

The Best Options

Whether you have high blood pressure or are trying to avoid it, decrease the amount of saturated fat you get in your diet. Red meat tends to be high in saturated fat. Choose very lean red meat, skinless chicken, fish or vegetarian protein sources. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, recommends eating no more than six servings of lean meat, fish or poultry per day. You also need to limit salt in your diet, which means avoiding processed and cured meats, many of which are high in salt. The leanest cuts of red meat include flank steak and any cuts with loin or round in their names, as well as 95 percent lean ground beef.

Healthy Preparation Methods

When you do eat meat, trim off any visible fat and prepare it without added fat : roast, braise, stew, grill or broil the meat. Flavor your meat with fruit juices, herbs and spices instead of adding salt or sauces high in sodium, such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, hot pepper sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce or barbeque sauce.