A major study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, which involved 110.000 people, concluded that eating as little as two pieces of pork per day or one hot dog can raise the mortality rates of mortality by 20%, while showing that substituting red meat with other sources of protein, such as fish, chicken or vegetables can lower mortality rates.
“Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies,” said lead author An Pan, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.
Just one daily serving of unprocessed red meat (no bigger than a deck of cards) was associated with a 13 percent increased risk of mortality, while one daily serving of processed meat (like a hot dog or 2 strips of bacon) raised that risk to 20%. The study also took into consideration the age, body mass index, physical activity, and family history of heart disease or major cancers of the patients and includes them in calculating the increase in mortality rates.
Replacing one serving of meat with one source of healthier protein would lower the mortality rates as follows: 7 percent for fish, 14 percent for poultry, 19 percent for nuts, 10 percent for legumes, 10 percent for low-fat dairy products, and 14 percent for whole grains. Researchers estimated that 9.3 percent of male deaths and 7.6 percent of female deaths could have been prevented if they had consumed less than 0.5 servings of red meat per day.
“This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death,” said Hu. “On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality.”