Eating plant-based foods lowers the risk of premature death while eating red meat, any type or amount, significantly increases the risk of early death, according to a study from Harvard published this Monday.
Studies have continually shown that the consumption of meat in the amounts most first world countries eat leads to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, but this study adds more to the story.
“This new study provides further compelling evidence that high amounts of red meat may boost the risk of premature death,” says study author An Pan of the Harvard School of Public Health.
Pan and colleagues analyzed diet, health, and mortality data on 37,698 men and 83,644 women. During the more than 20 year study, nearly 24,000 of the participants died, including 5,910 from heart disease and 9,464 from cancer.
The study found that eating one serving a day of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 13% increased risk in premature death and eating one serving a day of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk of premature death.
Using a statistic model, the researchers estimated that replacing one serving a day of red meat with one serving of fish would decrease premature death by 7%; replacing it with poultry would decrease the risk by 14%; nuts, 19%; beans, 10%; low-fat dairy, 10%; whole grains, 14%.
“The message we want to communicate is it would be great if you could reduce your intake of red meat consumption to half a serving a day or two to three servings a week, and severely limit processed red meat intake,” Pan says.
Sunwarrior, a raw, plant-based supplement company, believes they have a solution.
“Replacing red meat with plant-based alternatives is easier than most people think,” said Denley Fowlke, cofounder of Sunwarrior. “Our Warrior Blend combines pea, cranberry seed, and hempseed protein in a raw, natural state that also tastes great. It’s perfect for any lifestyle, not just vegetarians and vegans.”
Anyone can reduce their risk of early death by choosing alternative protein sources apart from red meat.