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Heart month: To eat or not to eat red meat?

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SEATTLE -- To eat or not to eat red or processed meat? It's an issue debated by researchers for some time and a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association may have you putting down the steak knife.

According to the study, eating just two servings of processed meat or unprocessed red meat each week can bring a small, but significant increased risk of premature death and heart disease.

Researchers studied long-term data on nearly 30,000 people and determined people who ate two servings of meats like bacon, sausage or a hot dog each week had a three to 7% higher risk of premature death and cardiovascular disease. While the percentages may sound small, heart disease is the number one killer in men and women in the united states.

Doctor Susie Woo, a cardiologist with Virginia Mason, says even a small reduction in risk can make a big difference.

“The real consensus is that red meat is not good for – it’s not a heart healthy thing to do. It increases inflammation, a lot of times it has a lot of saturated fat and although fat is not the enemy, the saturated fat is not good for your cardiovascular health. The more plant-based you are, the better. I think that if you are gonna take out some meat, you would start with the red meat. So, try to minimize it as much as you can.”

The study's lead author says anyone concerned about heart health or risk for cancer and other diseases should limit their intake of red and processed meats.

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