Will eating red meat today lead to an early grave tomorrow? While it's a known fact that eating read meat can lead to heart disease and diabetes, researchers have now discovered that consuming it can significantly increase risk of death.
A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that after 22 years of following the eating and lifestyle habits of over 121,000 doctors and nurses, those who ate an additional single serving of meat a day had a 13 percent increased risk of dying. The study also discovered that the additional serving of processed red meat a day increased the risk of dying during the study period by 20 percent.
What exactly are the increased causes of death linked to red meat consumption? Death by heart disease and cancer were both found to increase with daily servings of red meat.
So how can red meat eaters fight back from the harm done to their bodies?
While red meat may be a primary source of protein and fat, its association with mortality risk is something not to be toyed with. Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, told HealthDay that, We should move to a more plant-based diet. This can substantially reduce the risk of chronic disease and the risk of premature death.
Turning to a strict vegan or vegetarian diet isn't completely necessary to counteract the harmful effects of red meat. Simply cutting down on the amount of red meat can improve health. Dr. An Pan of the Harvard Department of Nutrition suggested to the UK Telegraph that read meat consumers should substituting other food items. Compared with red meat, other dietary components, such as fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, were associated with lower risk.
HSPH researchers state that the risk of dying is reduced by 19 percent in those who replaced red meat with a serving of nuts. A substitution of poultry and whole grains reduces risk of death by 14 percent, and plant-based and low-fat dairy substitutions lower mortality risk by 10 percent.
Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical-nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., told HealthDay that going meatless for just a few days a week has the power to significantly reduce mortality risk associated with heart disease and cancer.
While many believe that humans are born carnivores, the truth is that the human body is not designed to handle the large amounts of saturated fat and iron found in red meat.