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Although previous studies have suggested that high intake of meat, particularly red meat, may contribute to the development of hypertension, data on the prospective associations between meat intake and risk of hypertension are still limited.We investigated the association of total red meat, types of red meat and poultry intake at baseline with the incidence of hypertension in a prospective cohort of 28 766 female US health professionals aged ≥ 45 years.Baseline red meat and poultry intake were assessed from semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires. Incident cases of hypertension (n = 8693) were identified from annual follow-up questionnaires during 10 years of follow-up.After adjusting for known hypertension risk factors, the relative risk and 95% confidence interval (CI) of incident hypertension were 1.00 (reference), 1.05 (0.97–1.13), 1.05 (0.97–1.13), 1.05 (0.97–1.14) and 1.13 (1.04–1.23), respectively, across increasing quintiles of baseline total red meat intake (P for trend = 0.008). Using functional cutpoints, women who consumed > 0 to < 0.5, 0.5 to < 1.0, 1.0 to < 1.5 and ≥ 1.5 servings/day of total red meat had multivariable relative risks (95% CI) of hypertension of 1.24 (1.08–1.43), 1.25 (1.08–1.44), 1.32 (1.13–1.53) and 1.35 (1.14–1.59) compared to those who consumed no red meat (P for trend = 0.008). By contrast, multivariable relative risks of incident hypertension across increasing quintiles of poultry intake were 1.00, 1.03, 1.03, 1.08 and 1.03 (P for trend = 0.37).Red meat intake was positively associated, whereas poultry intake was unassociated, with the risk of hypertension in middle-aged and older women.