TUESDAY, April 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A type of iron found only in red meat is associated with an increase in the risk of heart disease, a new review finds.
Researchers analyzed 21 studies that included more than 292,000 people who were followed for an average of 10 years. They found a link between consuming heme iron -- which is only in red meat -- and a 57 percent increased risk of heart disease.
In contrast, consuming non-heme iron -- found in vegetables, other non-meat sources and iron supplements -- was not associated with the risk of heart disease, according to the researchers at the Indiana University School of Public Health at Bloomington.
"Heme iron is absorbed at a much greater rate in comparison to non-heme iron [37 percent vs. 5 percent]," the researchers said in a university news release. "Once absorbed, it may contribute as a catalyst in the oxidation of [bad cholesterol], causing tissue-damaging inflammation." This inflammation is a potential risk factor for heart disease.