Eating just one serving of red meat per day may put you at greater risk for heart disease and cancer, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health.
The study, which was released on Monday, followed more than 121,000 men and women over nearly twenty years. It revealed that daily intake of one serving of red meat can result in an increased mortality risk of 13 percent.
Though a high consumption red meat has long been associated with potential health risks, Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, told ABC News “what is surprising is the magnitude of risk associated with very moderate red meat consumption.” The majority of the participants in the study ate one or more servings of red meat a day.
The study stops short of saying that red meat consumption causes death, but instead states that the two are strongly correlated. Compounds such as saturated fats and other chemicals produced during the processing and cooking of red meat increase the risk of heart disease and cancer, according to Dr. Hu.
Instead of eating red meat, nutritionist Keri Glassman suggests eating more fish, chicken and nuts. These foods are high in protein but don’t offer the same potential health risks. Indeed, the study found that the risk of premature mortality goes down by 19 percent if these protein alternatives are substituted for red meat once a week.
Chef Michael Symon, a longtime meat eater and author of the soon-to-be-released cookbook Carnivore, said, “common sense says don’t eat huge steaks everyday,” adding that moderation is key. Instead he and fellow chef Mario Batali enjoy smaller portions, no more than three ounces per serving, of high quality meat less frequently.
Glassman agrees and enjoys “a high quality red meat once a week with [her] family.”