A new study has revealed eating processed meat increases the risk of heart disease by a fifth.
Scientists have conducted the largest-ever analysis into the impact of eating meat on cardiac health and are urging people to significantly reduce their consumption of processed and red meat.
The data showed that eating 50g of processed meat - such as sausages, bacon, and ham - can increase the risk of heart disease by 18 per cent, due to the high saturated fat and salt content.
It is thought that high intakes of saturated fats increase harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while excess salt consumption can raise blood pressure.
Consuming unprocessed red meat including beef, lamb and pork, led to a nine per cent rise in the risk of cardiac health complications, while meats with lower saturated fat levels such as chicken and turkey were found to have no link to heart disease.
Researchers from the University of Oxford believe the public should cut their red and processed meat consumption by 75 per cent, or even better cut it out completely, to reduce the likelihood of dying from coronary heart issues.
"We know that meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and we need to reduce meat production and consumption to benefit the environment," Anika Knüppel, co-lead author of the study, said. "Our study shows that a reduction in red and processed meat intake would bring personal health benefits too."
The health of more than 1.4 million people was tracked for up to 30 years, including 13 cohort studies, to examine the link between processed/red meat and cardiac health.
Experts are yet to agree on how much red or processed meats people can safely consume but believe once a week is a sensible option.
It is currently estimated that 10 per cent of people in the U.K. will eventually die from coronary heart disease.