Red meat consumption, incident cardiovascular disease, and the influence of dietary quality in the Jackson Heart Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Public health nutrition




African Americans; Jackson Heart Study; cardiovascular disease; dietary quality; processed meat; red meat


OBJECTIVES: We investigated the prospective associations between meat consumption and CVD and whether these relationships differ by dietary quality among African American adults. DESIGN: Baseline diet was assessed with a regionally specific food frequency questionnaire. Unprocessed red meat included beef and pork (120 g/serving); processed meat included sausage, luncheon meats, and cured meat products (50 g/serving). Incident total CVD, CHD, stroke, and heart failure were assessed annually over 9.8 y of follow-up. We characterized dietary quality using a modified Healthy Eating Index 2010 score (m-HEI), excluding meat contributions. SETTING: Jackson, MS, USA. PARTICIPANTS: African American adults (n=3242, aged 55 y, 66% female). RESULTS: Mean total, unprocessed red, and processed meat intakes were 5.7±3.5, 2.3±1.8, and 3.3±2.7 servings/wk. Mostly null associations were observed between meat categories and CVD or sub-types. However, greater intake of unprocessed red meat (3 servings/wk) was associated with significantly elevated risk of stroke [HR=1.43 (CI:1.07,1.90)]. With the exception of a more positive association between unprocessed meat consumption and stroke among individuals in m-HEI tertile 2, the strength of associations between meat consumption categories and CVD outcomes did not differ by m-HEI tertile. In formal tests, m-HEI did not significantly modify meat-CVD associations. CONCLUSIONS: In this cohort of African American adults, total and processed meat were not associated with CVD outcomes, with the exception that unprocessed red meat was related to greater stroke risk. Dietary quality did not modfiy these associations. Research is needed in similar cohorts with longer follow-up and greater meat consumption to replicate these findings.


Exercise and Nutrition Sciences