Heart Attacks & Red Meat

The Heart Attack Grill has been making headlines lately due to the irony of one of its patrons suffering a heart attack while eating a 6000 calorie “Triple Bypass Burger”. While the irony of the Heart Attack Grill story was not lost in the media coverage, it is important to remind everyone what is recommended in terms of healthy consumption of red meat, whether the dish is cleverly named or not. So what is the recommended, healthy consumption of red meat?

When asked how much Americans should be consuming red meat, Oklahoma Heart Institute cardiologist, Dr. Eugene Ichinose points towards the findings of the Lyon Diet Heart Study, which “…demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of a Mediterranean Diet, which involves increase fruits and vegetable and less red meat.” 

So what exactly does “less red meat” mean for our daily diets?  Dr. Ichinose says, “The American Heart Association recommends limiting cholesterol to <300mg per day.   Assuming 95% lean beef is used, there are approximately 86mg of cholesterol per 4 oz serving, which would be approximately 14oz of meat per day, assuming that this is your only source of cholesterol.”  However, for many of us, red meat is not the sole source of cholesterol in our diets.  Everything from cheese, to butter, and even chicken and fish contain cholesterol. 

To understand the proper amount of red meat in an average American diet, the American Heart Association recommends limiting lean meat to 6 ounces total a day.  The reason we need to monitor the amount of red meat in our diets is due to the fact that red meat is generally higher is cholesterol and saturated fat than chicken, fish, or beans.  Higher cholesterol and saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease.  When choosing meat, it is also best to choose lean meat, which usually contain the words “round,” “loin” or “sirloin” on the package.

Other tips from the American Heart Association to help you lower the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat in your meat consumption include:

  • Remember one portion of meat is about the size of a deck of cards or three ounces.
  • Trim off as much fat as you can before cooking, and pour off the melted fat after cooking.
  • Use healthier cooking methods: bake, broil, stew and grill.

If you are looking for ways to cut back on red meat consumption in your diet, here are a few meatless recipes from Pinterest.  Grilled Vegetable Kabobs, Vegetaria Mushroom and Cannellini Bean Ragout, and Meatless Burritto (pictured).


Photo Courtesy of Pinterest - Babble.com's The Family Kitchen

Making simple meal substitutions and eating a heart healthy diet can have a lasting and powerful impact on your heart health.  Experts agree that a heart healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 80%.  With heart disease the number one killer for both men and women, being mindful of what we eat and how it affects our heart health is one of the first steps in preventing heart attacks and heart disease.

Article written by Amanda Armstrong.  Sources: American Heart Association, Dr. Eugene Ichinose, Pinterest