Consider the latest findings:
- A Harvard study found that eating red meat every other day, instead of daily, can substantially cut your risk for heart disease. Women who ate two servings of red meat a day had a 30 percent higher risk of heart disease compared with women who ate it just three or four times a week.
- A study of 200,000 men and women ages 25 to 75 found that replacing just one serving of red meat a day with either nuts, grains or low-fat dairy lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 20 percent. Conversely, eating just one hot dog or sausage or two strips of bacon daily increased the risk for diabetes by 51 percent.
- Harvard researchers who followed 84,136 women ages 30 to 55 found that eating one serving per day of nuts instead of red meat was linked to a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular heart disease; subbing one serving of fish for red meat meant a 24 percent lower risk, poultry a 19 percent lower risk; and low-fat dairy a 13 percent lower risk.
There are other important reasons to cut back on meat consumption — from saving global resources like fresh water and fuel, to reducing the amount of antibiotics and hormones in your diet from factory-farmed meat.
On the other hand, you want to make sure your diet isn't too low in protein, iron and zinc. When you cut out meat protein, you need to swap in plant proteins like beans, lentils and chickpeas, which provide essential nutrients and also keep you from feeling hungry. And anytime you make a change in your diet, be sure sure to consult your doctor.