We all know about diets that are high in protein touted as the fastest weight loss among a plethora of diets that are out there. Meat is indeed a large source of protein and fat in the diet. We have had many diets that have shown the link between red meat and increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In a study released this week, 37,698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and 83,644 women from the Nurses’ Health Study who were all free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the baseline of the study, were followed from as early as 1980 to 2008. Diet was assessed by tools to look at food questionnaires and was updated every four years.
The study found that eating more red meat appears to be associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality and death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. The good news was that substituting other foods including fish and poultry for red meat is associated with lower mortality risk. In the study, there were 23,926 deaths, including 5,910 from CVD and 9,464 from cancer. Here are the highlights that were found:

  • higher intake of red meat was associated with a significantly elevated risk of total, CVD and cancer mortality
  • the association was observed for unprocessed and processed red meat
  • greater risk for processed red meat
  • substituting of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products and whole grains for red meat was associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality
  • elevated risk of total mortality for a one-serving-per-day increase was: 12 % for total red meat, 13 % for unprocessed red meat, 20 % for processed red meat
  • replacing one serving of total red meat with one serving of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products or whole grains daily was associated with a lower risk of total mortality: 7 % for fish, 14 % for poultry, 19 % for nuts, 10% for legumes, 10 % for low-fat dairy products and 14 % for whole grains.

If ever there was a case for we are what we eat, this is one that clearly highlights we can impact our health and wellness by our choices. The authors state that when it comes to death – 9.3 per cent in men and 7.6 per cent in women of these total deaths during follow-up could be prevented if all the participants consumed fewer than 0.5 servings per day of total red meat.

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