Meat lovers please take note. Increased consumption of red or processed meat may increase the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), researchers have found.
“NAFLD is considered as the hepatic component of the metabolic syndrome, with insulin resistance and inflammation as key factors in its pathophysiology,” said lead author Shira Zelber-Sagi, Professor at the University of Haifa in Israel.
Researchers noted that high meat eaters were slightly younger, mainly male, had a higher body mass index (BMI), caloric intake and a worse metabolic profile.
In addition, individuals who consumed large quantities of meat cooked using unhealthy methods including, frying or grilling, had increased levels of high heterocyclic amines (HCAs) — pro-inflammatory compounds found in burned meat — and therefore developed insulin resistance.
People who are already diagnosed with NAFLD had similar consequences, along with an increased chance of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and chronic heart diseases, researchers mentioned in the study, published in the Journal of Hepatology.
“Unhealthy Western lifestyle plays a major role in the development and progression of NAFLD, namely, lack of physical activity and high consumption of fructose and saturated fat,” Zelber-Sagi said.
“Our study looked at other common foods in the Western diet, namely red and processed meats, to determine whether they increase the risk for NAFLD,” she added.
In order to test the association of type of meat and cooking method with NAFLD and insulin resistance, the team included 357 participants, between 40 and 70 years of age.
NAFLD and insulin resistance were evaluated by ultrasonography and homeostasis model assessment (HOMA). Meat-type and cooking method were measured by food frequency and detailed meat consumption questionnaires.
Results showed that NAFLD was diagnosed in 38.7 per cent of participants and insulin resistance in 30.5 per cent.