Harvard research shows that eating red meat more frequently resulted in more deaths from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. Processed meats also placed people at greater death risk.

Trim red meat from menus

Roasted Vegetables Dish

Cooler weather speaks to heartier meals, and often meat is part of those main dishes. Recipes such as pot roast, beef stew, and lasagna with meat filling are made with beef and pork. But Harvard research suggests that we might want to back away from some of the red meat animal protein, especially if there are other unhealthy lifestyle habits in place. Here is more from this research that evaluated data from two large studies that included over 100,000 men and women.

The research showed that eating red meat more frequently resulted in more deaths from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. Red meats include beef, pork, veal and lamb. Processed meats also placed people at greater death risk. These foods include bacon, sausage, hotdogs and deli meats.

There seems to be little to no death risk association with the inclusion of plant-based protein foods, fish and poultry into the family menus. The plant protein sources that were consumed by the healthiest folks in this study included legumes, pasta and nuts.

The risk for early death was highest in those who consumed more red meat and also smoked, consumed too much alcohol, were obese and/or lacked exercise. Risky health behaviors just do not benefit anyone! 

Ease into some meatless meals or meals with fish or poultry for the protein if you can. Some examples:

  • Whole grain pasta with veggie marinara sauce
  • Shrimp or tofu cubes in a stir fry rather than beef strips
  • Roasted root vegetables – solo – no meat added to the meal

 Just take this a meal at a time.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.