New study should have you seriously rethinking your red meat consumption

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Don’t have a second burger — in fact, maybe try not to have any burgers.

Increasing your red meat intake, even by a small amount, shortens your life, according to a Harvard-led study published in BMJ. It’s already well-known that red meat is connected to health issues such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. But this sobering study found a link to red meat an early death.

Using a sample of 81,000 men and women in good health, researchers analyzed answers they provided in questionnaires about health and diet between 1986-2010. Researchers looked particularly closely at whether changes in red meat consumption during an eight-year period of the study affected the risk of death eight years later.

What they found: An increase of just half a serving of processed red meat per day was associated with a 13% high risk of dying young from any cause. And additional half-serving of unprocessed red meat increased the risk by 9%. So: slow down on the red meat.

The good news: Decreasing one’s red meat consumption and increasing the consumption of nuts, fish, poultry (without skin), dairy, eggs, whole grains, or vegetables was linked to a lower risk of death.

What’s in, what’s out: For optimal health, reduce your red meat intake – including processed meats like bacon, salami, and hot dogs. Focus on eating more poultry, fish, or plant-based forms of protein like beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.

Your heart — and your life — will thank you for it.

The research was led by Yan Zheng, professor Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston.