There is little debate in the scientific community whether eating mammal meat (beef, pork, lamb) regularly is associated with increased risk for heart disease. An analysis of several studies covering more than 1.4 million people, who were followed for 30 years or more, found that for each 1.75 ounces per day of:
• beef, lamb or pork consumed, the risk of heart disease increased by nine percent
• processed meats such as bacon, ham or sausage consumed, the risk rose 18 percent
The article lists 54 journal references (Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, July 21, 2021).
A serving of 1.75 ounces is about half the size of a bar of soap. Most meat-eaters eat far more than two ounces of red meat or processed meat with their meals. The typical sirloin steak eaten in a restaurant weighs between 9-12 ounces. Many other studies show that plant-based diets that avoid mammal meat, such as the DASH diet or the Ornish diet, help to reduce heart attack risk. These diets have also been shown to reduce risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression and some cancers.
A Heart-Healthy Diet
In addition to avoiding mammal meat and processed meats, the heart-healthy diet I recommend includes:
• eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds
• restricting sugar added foods and all drinks with sugar, including fruit juices
• restricting salt
• restricting dairy products (although fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese that have live cultures appear to have some benefits)
• If you have Type II diabetes or if weight control is an issue for you, limit all refined carbohydrates
Some people still think that eating meat every day is not harmful, even though many studies have shown strong associations with heart attacks and premature death. You do not need to be a vegetarian, but I recommend that everyone should at least limit the amounts they eat of these foods and eat lots of plants.
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