Cut Back on Meat & Live Longer

The advice to dial back on burgers, steaks, and cold cuts just took on a bit more oomph. A ten-year study found four ounces of beef increases your risk of dying early by at least 30 percent.

By Janis Graham From Reader's Digest USA, July 2009

A 10-year study using data from the USA National Institutes of Health  followed 545,000 Americans and found that those in the uppermost quintile of early deaths ate four ounces or more of meat per day. Those who consumed an ounce or less daily had longer life expectancies

Affirming Previous Research

Though previous research has linked a diet heavy in red meat to a greater risk of heart disease and colon cancer, this is the first big study to look at how it affects your life expectancy.

Eat Less

The results don't mean you have to completely eliminate beef and pork, says Paula Quatro-moni, DSc, an assistant professor of nutrition at  Boston University, who wasn't involved in the study. “You just need to eat much less.”

Tips for Cutting Back

  • Don't quit-switch. People who ate more fish, chicken, and turkey had a slightly lower risk of dying during this study, so use turkey for your meat loaf and shrimp when you make a stir-fry.
  • Skewer chicken for shish kebabs-or, if you prefer, use a few chunks of beef along with plenty of veggies.
  • Keep rules simple. If you eat lots of red meat, start by banning it from two meals. Skip bacon at breakfast; substitute turkey for ham in your deli sandwich. Then declare one day of the week “red-meat-less.”
  • Indulge, but not every day. When you hanker for a big burger, a sizzling T-bone, or a rack of barbecued ribs, go for it! Then build the rest of your week's meals around fish, beans, and other healthier sources of protein.
  • Start introducing more vegetarian meals  into your diet. Not only will you feel healthier but you'll probably lose weight.


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