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Diet Diva

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Red Meat May Reduce Length of Life

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A new study in this week's issue of Archives of Internal Medicine is turning some heads, especially those who love steak and burgers.

The researchers from the National Cancer Institute found that over the 10-year period studied those who ate the most red meat every day had about 30% greater risk of dying compared to those who had less red meat. The causes of death were mostly from heart disease and cancer.

How much red meat is too much?
In this study, those with highest risk ate the equivalent of a small steak or 1/4 pound burger every day. Red meat in this study was defined as all types of beef and pork alone and in dishes containing it.

Those people who ate the most white meat have lower mortality than those who ate the least. I am assuming this means that the people eating the least were eating other high fat sources of animal protein instead (and were not vegetarians, for example). Those who ate large amounts of processed meats (bacon, sausage, cold cuts, ham, hot dogs) also had higher mortality risk than those who consumed the least.

How much red meat can we have?
Red meat does have benefits and is very nutrient dense. It is high in protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. However, many studies now have linked red meat and high saturated fat diets to diseases and deaths. Americans eat four times more meat and dairy than the rest of the world.

Bottom line
You don't have to cut out red meat if you enjoy it, but consider reducing your intake to once or twice a week and always choose lean cuts of meat and trim visible fat from your steaks. Instead of red meat and processed meats, choose white meat poultry, fish, legumes (beans), low-fat dairy, or soy instead.

Image courtesy of medicineworld.org
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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