Bad news, red meat lovers.
Eating any amount and type of red meat now seems to significantly increase your risk of premature death, according to a new Harvard red meat study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults over a 20-year period.
Adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat, a relatively small piece of steak, to your daily diet was associated with a 13 percent greater chance of dying during the course of the study.
Processed meats are even worse. Adding an extra daily hot dog, or say two slices of bacon, was linked to a 20 percent greater chance of death during the course of the study.
“Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” said An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study, which was published online yesterday (Monday) in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The researchers also found that replacing red meat with other foods seemed to reduce mortality risk for study participants.
Eating a serving of nuts as opposed to beef or pork was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of dying during the study. Choosing poultry or whole grains as a substitute was linked with a 14 percent drop in mortality risk; low-fat dairy or legumes, 10 percent; and fish, 7 percent.
Nancy Degner, with the Iowa Beef Industry Council, says that beef shouldn’t take all the blame in the Harvard red meat study. She wonders how other factors, like exercise for example, were considered in the Harvard study.
“Choosing lean cuts (and) eating in moderation can actually be a very important part of a healthy diet,” said Degner.
Degner says the results in the Harvard red meat study go against a recent Penn State University study funded by the beef industry that found a health benefit, as opposed to a risk, in eating red meat.
“Actually, 4 ounces of lean beef daily, in the context of a heart-healthy diet can actually reduce blood cholesterol, the LDL or bad cholesterol, by 10 percent,” said Degner.
Registered dietician Sarah Haveman says when it comes to red meat, moderation is key.
“Even with a 90 percent lean ground beef, well, that’s still ten percent fat,” said Haveman.
Haveman recommends a mere two or three servings of red meat per week and adding more fruits and vegetables to our plate.
“I think the tendency with any dietary information is to zero in on a specific thing as opposed to recognizing we need our entire picture of what we’re eating every day to be healthy,” said Haveman.
- Red Meat Is Responsible for One in Ten Early Deaths [Health] (gizmodo.com)
- Eating A Lot Of Red Meat May Shorten Your Life (fox2now.com)
- Will Eating Red Meat Kill You? (neatorama.com)
- All Red Meat is Bad For You – Daily Beast (thedailybeast.com)