Meat Consumption Linked to Several Illnesses


Recent research highlights the connections between regular meat intake and health risks, including heart disease and diabetes. Learn about this study on meat consumption and health, and get these tips on how to swap meat for more plants on your plate, such as including this recipe for Rustic Vegan Corn Potato Sausage Skillet featured above. 

Recent research from the UK has found a link between regular meat consumption and risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, and several other illnesses. Regular meat consumption is defined in the study as eating red meat, processed meat, and poultry meat at least three times a week. Many Americans are eating meat once a day, if not more! So, we have lots of room for improving our diets. 

The researchers looked at the various risks associated with each type of meat. For every 70 grams (about one serving) of unprocessed red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and unprocessed meat (poultry) that an individual consumed daily, their risk of diabetes was increased by 30%, and their risk of heart disease went up by 15%. Red meat and processed meat (i.e., ham, bacon, sausage) also have been linked to bowel cancer, and Public Health England, an executive agency in the UK, suggests limiting red meat consumption to decrease the risk of developing bowel cancer. Read more about the links between red meat and colon cancer here.

Increase the fiber in your diet with these delicious black eyed peas meatballs

What to do? Eating a balanced plant-based diet is one of the best ways to lead a healthy, happy life. Including antioxidant-rich fruits, such as strawberries, avocadoes, and blueberries in your meals can help neutralize damaging free radicals in your body, helping you to fend off chronic diseases. Fibrous foods, such as broccoli, lentils, and whole grains, are important in decreasing blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and low HDL cholesterol can contribute to heart disease—which is currently the number one cause of death in the United States! 

Include more pulses and whole grains in your diet daily, starting with this recipe for Vegan California Burrito Bowl

If you’re wondering why heart disease is such a major health issue in the United States—well, there are a few reasons. One contributor is obesity, as nearly 2/3 of the U.S. population is classified as overweight or obese. Having excess body fat can increase cortisol (stress hormone) levels and cause inflammation, leading to heart disease. Another major factor is what we eat: a poor diet can have tremendous effects on one’s health, including the heart. High intakes of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars; and low intakes of pulses, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds can lead to the development of heart disease, according to hundreds of studies. 

Try including soyfoods as a meat alternative for your plate. This recipe for Fresh Orange Tofu with Brown Rice is a great beginning place.

How can you decrease your risk of developing these diseases? The researchers found that being overweight or obese, along with eating meat regularly, heavily contributed to the increased risk. Making sure you are at a healthy weight can be an important way to prevent diseases—type 2 diabetes, for example, can be prevented or delayed by making small lifestyle changes, such as increasing fruit and vegetable intake. It’s clear you can reduce your risk by adopting a more plant-based diet. There are plenty of resources available for swapping out some, most, or all of the meat in your diet, according to your own health goals. 

So, what are the main takeaways from this study? Consuming meat three or more times per week can increase your risk of developing a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Eating less meat or cutting it out completely can decrease this risk by a significant amount. Making lifestyle changes such as healthy weight loss can also be beneficial. 

Read more research updates on diet and health here: 

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