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A Little Less Red Meat, A Few More Birthday Candles

The New York Times Article "Red Meat Linked to Cancer and Heart Disease"

March 13, 2012

"Eating red meat is associated with a sharply increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease, according to a new study, and the more of it you eat, the greater the risk."

With the increased convenience of fast food and diner fare, bigger plates and portion sizes, it can be increasingly harder to find 'good' food and to motivate yourself to eat healthy. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Pyramid, fruits and vegetables should make up the largest portion of a healthy diet. This usually means about 2-3 cups of vegetables (nutrient dense and very filling) and about 2 cups of fruit per day.

What the USDA has to say about meat, though, is to eat it sparingly. Included in the 'meat' catergory of the food pyramid is also poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts; all protein rich foods. From this category, you only need about a 5 1/2 ounce equivalent- either by combining several items or eating one lean, low fat option.

If you eat too much read meat, according to Dr. Frank B Hu, a professor of medicine at Harvard and the study's lead author, there is an increased risk of mortality.

"People who ate more red meat were less physically active and more likely to smoke and had a higher body mass index, researchers found. Still, after controlling for those and other variables, they found that each daily increase of three ounces of red meat was associated with a 12 percent greater risk of dying over all, including a 16 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death and a 10 percent greater risk of cancer death."

The study goes on to say:

"The increased risks linked to processed meat, like bacon, were even greater: 20 percent over all, 21 percent for cardiovascular disease and 16 percent for cancer. If people in the study had eaten half as much meat, the researchers estimated, deaths in the group would have declined 9.3 percent in men and 7.6 percent in women. "

Though it is easy to order a side of extra-crispy bacon with your brunch omlette, or a medium-rare steak or cheeseburger during a dinner-night-out, those portions exceed the advised daily serving. But eating red meat isn't all bad. Red meat is a good source of B-12, when eaten in moderation. So share the side of bacon and cut your burger in half and save the leftovers for a lunch time meal. Cutting back on red meat and substituting other lean, low fat, healthy foods such as nuts, dry beans, fish, poultry and eggs gives you plenty of options to keep your meals fun and fresh. Cutting back can also keep you healthy for longer.

 

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