Red meat is not only unhealthy but can be lethal, according to new research.
Regularly eating red meat – especially the processed variety – dramatically increases the risk of death from heart disease and cancer, a major study has shown.
Each additional daily serving of processed red meat, equivalent to one hot dog or two rashers of bacon, raised the chances of dying by one-fifth.
Conversely, replacing red meat with fish, poultry, or plant-based protein foods contributed to a longer life.
Nuts were said to reduce the risk of dying by 20 per cent – making a case for swapping roast beef for nut roast.
Data from 121,342 men and women taking part in two large US health and lifestyle investigations were analysed to produce the findings, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
The studies monitored the progress of their participants for more than 20 years and gathered information about diet. In total, scientists documented 23,926 deaths including 5,910 from heart disease and 9,364 from cancer.
A striking association was seen between consumption of red meat and premature death. Senior author Professor Frank Hu, from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said: "This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death.
"On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity (illness) and mortality."