New findings from Harvard School of Public Health offer even more incentive to opt for meatless meals. According to a large, long-range study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, frequent servings of red and processed meat can significantly increase one’s mortality risk.
Researches examined the eating habits of 110,000 adults for more than 20 years. They discovered just one 3-ounce serving of red meat daily (about the size of a deck of playing cards) was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying over the course of the study. What’s more, participants who consumed daily servings of processed meats like hot dogs and bacon were at 20% higher risk of mortality. As the amount of meat consumed increased, so did the risk of death.
Conversely, replacing beef and pork with a serving of nuts, legumes, whole grains or low-fat dairy seemed to improve longevity. Nut consumption was linked to a 19% lower risk of dying during the study, whole grains with a 14% reduction, and beans and dairy with a 10% decrease in mortality.
“Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study told the LA Times, “If you want to eat red meat, eat the unprocessed products, and reduce it to two or three servings a week,” he said. “That would have a huge impact on public health.”
Dr. Dean Ornish, a UC San Francisco researcher and author of an editorial that accompanied the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, agrees, suggesting that red meat lovers can reduce their risk by cutting meat one day a week. “Something as simple as a Meatless Monday can help,” he said. “Even small changes can make a difference”