(Gray News) – People looking for a scientific reason to keep eating red meat aren’t getting any help from researchers.
A new study published this week in the medical journal BMJ found an increase in total red meat consumption is associated with higher overall death rates.
Eating an extra half serving of red meat a day was linked to a 10 percent higher mortality risk. Add processed meats and the rate jumps to 13 percent.
This study tracked the eating habits and death rates of some 50,000 women and 28,000 men in the United States from 1986 to 2010.
"The data suggest that replacing red meat with other protein sources, such as poultry, fish, nuts, legumes and whole grains and even vegetables, can reduce the risk of premature death," said Dr. Frank Hu, the senior author of the study.
Hu is chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
A decrease in eating red meats and an increase of whole grains, vegetables or other protein sources was associated with a lower risk of death over an eight-year period, researchers found.
Earlier studies have shown that higher red meat consumption, especially processed red meat, is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer and mortality.
A study released last week by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed red and white meats were equally bad for cholesterol, one of the risk factors for heart disease.
“When we planned this study, we expected red meat to have a more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat, but we were surprised that this was not the case -- their effects on cholesterol are identical when saturated fat levels are equivalent,” said the study’s senior author Ronald Krauss, professor of medicine at University of California – San Francisco.
But neither were as good as cutting out meat altogether and eating plant-based proteins instead, the study found.
Consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes.
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