Healthy Choices Reduce Red Meat to Live Longer

When researchers studied half a million people for 10 years to find out what effect eating red meat had on a person's life span, they learned the more red meat a person ate, the higher the risk of an early death.

In the Archives of Internal Medicine study,* sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, people who ate the most red meat (about 4 to 5 ounces a day) were at least 30 percent more likely to die early compared to those who ate the least red meat.

The study found diets high in red and processed meats shorten life span—not just from cancer and heart disease, but also from Alzheimer's, stomach ulcers, and an array of other conditions. Compared to people who ate red meat regularly, people who chose poultry and fish instead of red meat had lower mortality levels.

The researchers estimated that one out of every 10 deaths in men, and an amazing one in five deaths in women, could have been prevented if they had eaten less red meat.

To eat less red meat, try eating more:

Fruits and vegetables.

Nuts and nut butters.

Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, soy, tofu).

Whole-grain breads, cereals, and pasta.

These foods are healthy sources of protein and are shown in many studies to promote health and a longer life.

The research is clear. If you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and early death, reduce or eliminate red and processed meats from your diet.

* "Red meat" in this study included all types of beef and pork, including bacon, hamburgers, sausage, steak, hot dogs and red meat in foods such as pizza, chili, lasagna and stew.

June 01, 2009 / Health