We know already that red meat is high in saturated fats and is tied to all sorts of diseases. A new Harvard study gets even more precise in the types and amounts of meat that cause harm. The researchers say adding a small, three-ounce serving of processed red meat --such as a sausage patty -- to your daily diet increases risk of premature death by 20 percent. Eating the same amount of unprocessed meat increases that risk by 13 percent.
The scientists analyzed two dietary studies that survey 110,000 Americans over 28 years. They conclude that almost 10 percent of premature deaths could have been prevented by consuming less than half a serving of red meat per day. "We should move to a more plant-based diet," study co-author Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health told CBS News.
When read meat is replaced with fish, poultry, nuts, legumes or low-fat dairy, the risks decrease. There are some criticisms of the study, centering on the difficulty of tracking individual diets accurately. Also, correlation does not prove causality.
Does this study change your lunch plans? Do these results apply to all individuals, no matter their genes? What are the health risks of vegetarian or vegan diets?
An Pan, Co-author of the study. Research Fellow in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health
Gail Frank, Professor of Nutrition, California State University, Long Beach; volunteer with American Cancer Society
Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD Executive Director, Human Nutrition Research, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association