Consumption of small amounts of red and processed meats is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease-related death. Lead author of the study Saeed Mastour Alshahrani explained, “A question about the effect of lower levels of intakes compared to no-meat eating remained unanswered. We wanted to take a closer look at the association of low intakes of red and processed meat with all-cause, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer mortality compared to those who didn’t eat meat at all.”
The study was part of a prospective cohort study involving approximately 96,000 Seventh-day Adventist men and women in the US and Canada.
Adventist’s are unique because around 50 percent of their population is vegetarian, and those who consume meat do so in low levels. This allowed researchers to study the effects of low amounts of consumed meat in comparison to those who do not consume meat at all.
The study looked at nearly 7,900 deaths over 11 years and diets were assessed through frequency questionnaires.
Among those who consumed meat, 90 percent consumed two ounces or less a day.
Nearly 2,600 of the deaths were related to cardiovascular disease and over 1,800 deaths were a result of cancer. Processed meat and red meat consumed together was associated with higher mortality, not just processed meat consumed alone.
Co-author of the study Michael Orlich concluded, “Our findings give additional weight to the evidence already suggesting that eating red and processed meat may negatively impact health and lifespan.”
As with all types of food, it’s essential to eat them in moderation. Protein is an integral part of a healthy diet, but too much protein from meat sources can increase the risk of mortality. Therefore, finding plant-based sources of protein can help you get the recommended amount along with maintaining good health.
Furthermore, if you do consume meat, it’s crucial to consume white meat and leaner cuts of meat more so than red meat and processed meat. Poultry and fish are good alternatives. Ensuring you eat a wide variety of foods in moderation is an excellent way to maintain good health.