We already knew that eating a lot of red meat and processed meat is harmful to our health. Researchers have confirmed it: they noted that over a 10-year period, big meat eaters had a higher risk of death from all causes.
The study, which involved more than a half-million Americans, led to the conclusion that individuals who ate the most red and processed meat had a higher overall risk of death, but particularly a higher risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Conversely, participants who ate a greater proportion of white meat had the lowest risk of death, as well as a lower risk of fatal cancer. The researchers concluded that 11 percent of deaths among men and 16 percent of deaths among women could have been prevented during the study period by decreasing red meat consumption.
The big eaters of red or processed meat were those who ate about 160 grams of meat per day, while those who ate the least consumed about 25 grams per day (the equivalent of a thin slice of bacon).
Examples of red meat include beef, veal and lamb. It is a valid source of several nutrients, in particular of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Processed meats, for their part, include meats that have been smoked, dried or salted, or that contain preservatives, like ham, bacon, salami and sausages.
Several carcinogenic compounds form during high-temperature cooking of meat. Red meat is also a major source of saturated fat, which has been associated with heart disease, colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, limiting our weekly intake of red meat to three portions of lean meat could decrease our risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. One portion represents 85 grams (3 ounces) of cooked meat, which is smaller than a deck of cards.
With summer nearly here, take advantage of the barbecue season to try new recipes using poultry, fish or seafood to replace the usual steak, hamburgers and hot-dogs. And don’t forget that meals don’t always have to include meat!