I’ve never liked red meat. I was a Lacto-ovo vegetarian for 17 years, but gave it up years ago. My diet now includes fish and chicken, but not red meat. I have always shied away from red meat because I never could get used to seeing blood on my plate and I don’t like to “work for my food” (red meat requires too much chewing). As it turns out, my aversion to red meat was a good thing.
We’ve heard for years that excessive amounts of red meat are linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Now there is evidence that consumption of red meat, even in moderate amounts, can lead to premature death. I’m not generally an alarmist, but the findings of this study will give you pause.
The lead author of a new study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, which analyzed the eating habits of 110,000 adults over 20 years, concluded that eating red meat, in any amount, contributes to the risk of premature death. The researchers were surprised to discover that the risk increased not only with processed (think bacon and hot dogs) meats, but also with unprocessed beef, pork or lamb. The study found that survey participants who added just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat to their daily diets had a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.
Bottom line advice:
- It’s best to stay away from red meat entirely and get your protein from nuts, poultry, whole grains, low-fat dairy, legumes and fish.
- If you can’t give it up entirely, eat unprocessed red meat and limit your intake to 2-3 servings per week.
Read more about the study in this Los Angeles Times article.