A higher consumption of red meat sharply increases the risk of heart disease in women, concludes a 26-year study published in "Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association."

According to the study, eating more fresh and processed red meat and high-fat dairy leaves women at higher risk for heart disease. In contrast, women who eat more protein-rich foods besides red meat, like poultry, fish and nuts, can decrease their risk. "Our study shows that making substitutes for red meat or minimizing the amount of red meat in the diet has important health benefits," said Adam M. Bernstein, M.D., Sc.D., the study's first author. 


Compared with one serving each day of red meat, women who substituted various protein-rich foods experienced significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. For example, one serving each day of poultry decreased the risk by 19% when compared with a daily serving of red meat, and a 24% decrease in risk was reported with a daily serving of fish. "There are good protein-rich sources that do not involve red meat," said Bernstein. "You don't need to have hot dogs, hamburgers, bologna or pastrami."