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Red Meat and the Heart Connection

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When it comes to protein, it’s generally unquestioned that eating fish is good for your heart health. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish such as salmon or herring are believed to lower your risk of developing heart disease as well as lower the risk of dying from heart-related disease. Fish is considered so important to heart health that the American Heart Association recommend eating fish at least twice a week.

When you consider the AHA guidelines in terms of how much food we consume each week, two servings of fish a week is really only a very small amount –- two out of 21 or so meals -- of our weekly diet. That leaves us with approximately 19 meals a week to eat "real" protein -- red meat!

Before you fire up the grill and thaw out the steaks, you we may want to proceed with caution. According to the Harvard School of Public Health or HSPH, red meat may not be the protein of choice if you're really interested in heart health.

According to a new HSPH study, eating as little as one serving of red meat a day can increase your risk of death from cancer and heart disease. Led by lead author An Pan, researchers found that eating as little as one serving of unprocessed meat each day increased your overall risk of death by 13 percent.

For those consuming processed meats such as a hot dog, the risk of death jumped to a 20 percent increase. Researchers also found that consuming one serving of unprocessed or processed red meat daily increased the risk of death from heart disease by 18 and 21 percent respectively.

Study findings also reported an increase risk of cancer death of 10 and 16 percent. In addition, researchers found that replacing one serving of red meat daily with other sources of protein lowered the risk of death between 7 and 19 percent depending on the protein alternative.

Study findings were based on a review of patient data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study. Both the Health Professionals and Nurses’ Health studies were long term studies with patient data from 22 to 28 years.

Add a Comment2 Comments

I cannot thank you enough for this article. Being a vegetarian for 30 years now...well not so strict...I do eat local grass fed chicken once a month and also mid swimming wild caught fish too, but other than that, I gave up beef a long time ago.
Now, with high blood pressure, I am glad I did. The first thing my Doctor told me was to not eat pre-prepared meats and also to cut out beef. No need lol.
I am glad I had the knowledge of this a while ago, but please keep spreading the word.
I appreciate this article,
Donna Merrill

March 22, 2012 - 2:15pm
Blogger (reply to Donna Merrill)

Hi Donna... I think that the prepared meats, even for regular beef eaters are the worst.  I grew up on a cattle ranch and all our cattle  were grass fed before it was popular. It's hard for me to eat "grocery store" beef at all even as a result.It does make a difference.

It seems like more and more that science is discovering that not only are we what we eat, but we're what the animals eat too. My grandmother lived to be 100 and was healthy to the end. Ninety percent of what she consumed, she raised herself and I've always wondered if that contributed to not only her longevity, but her extreme good health.

Meanwhile, my husband was told this week to cut out beef but we have chickens in my backyard, and half my little yard here in the city is a home garden so we'll just bring on the veggies.  :-)

March 26, 2012 - 7:40pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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