Does Grilling Raise Your Risk of High Blood Pressure?
With the weather getting warmer, it might be time for you to start dusting off your grill. Burgers, steaks, grilled chicken – they are all staples when it comes to cooking this time of year. But new research from the American Heart Association suggests that our grilled summer favorites might be increasing our risk for high blood pressure. Here is what you need to know about the latest recommendations:
The Basics of the Latest Study
The large-scale study, which collected information from over 100,000 participants, compared how they prepared their food and the rate at which they developed high blood pressure. None of the participants had high blood pressure at the start of the study, but of those who followed up within 12 to 16 years, 37,123 of them developed the condition.
Researchers found that those who typically grilled, broiled, or roasted their meat more than 15 times per month increased their risk for high blood pressure by 17%, while those who ate their meat well done increased their risk by 15%. Unfortunately, individuals who regularly consumed high levels of heterocyclic aromatic amines (chemicals found in the blackened, charred part of grilled meat), also increased their risk of high blood pressure by 17% too.
Dr. Gang Liu, P.h.D. who led the study noted that the increased risk for high blood pressure may come from a combined effect of oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance that happens in the body when this type of food is consumed. However, it appears more research is needed to better understand the relationship. For now, Dr. Liu suggests, “It may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure if you don’t eat these foods cooked well done and avoid the use of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods, including grilling, barbecuing, and broiling.”
Should You Stop Grilling?
Simply avoiding grilled food will not prevent cardiovascular disease. Prevention of high blood pressure starts with taking part in a health and wellness program that focuses on good eating habits and exercise. Maintaining a healthy body weight and participating in an active lifestyle are just a few strategies of primary health care that medical experts recommend to stave off high blood pressure and a myriad of other diseases.
Although it seems there is a link between grilled meats and high blood pressure, it does not mean you have to stop grilling altogether. Like all dietary choices, moderation is the key to success. If you’re worried about your individual risk for high blood pressure or other cardiovascular-related diseases, a simple poc lab test like cholesterol testing or frequent blood pressure monitoring can help you understand your heart health. Reach out to health screening services in your area to learn more about your risk today.
Despite the results of Dr. Liu’s recent study, there is no need to toss out your grill yet. As long as you keep the grilled meat to a minimum, understand your current heart health, and live an otherwise healthy lifestyle, high blood pressure does not have to be your fate. Keep the recommendations of the American Heart Association in mind, but if you still want to take part in the summer fun, simply chat with your doctor to decide what the risks look like for you.