For centuries, meat has been an essential part of the human diet and has made its way into just about every meal. Now researchers have discovered that a high-protein diet, consisting largely of meats, may not be as healthy as once thought. The saturated fats, sodium content and antibiotics in meat may be the culprit for the number of diseases, cancers and illnesses occurring in those who eat it on a daily basis. Simply eating less meat may be the key to preventing these health problems, and here are 9 reasons why you should cut back today:
- You’ll live longer: Although eating less meat may not necessarily add years to your life, it can prevent a premature death. Cutting back on red meat and processed meats may reduce your risk of developing heart disease and cancer, the two biggest killers of Americans. Red meat contains a high amount of saturated fat, which raises bad cholesterol levels and can increase your blood pressure making you more prone to having atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack.
- You’ll reduce the risk for heart disease and diabetes: Eating fewer processed meats can have a significant impact on your health. Cutting back on bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and help prevent diabetes. These meats contain a large amount of sodium and saturated fats, which can contribute to colorectal cancer, kidney problems and congestive heart failure.
- You’ll reduce the chances of getting a bacterial infection: Eating less or no meat at all may be your best defense against the drug-resistant superbugs that are appearing in supermarket meats these days. Antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been popping up in raw beef, chicken, turkey and cow’s milk, therefore, increasing the risk for hard-to-treat bacterial infections in humans. Staphylococcus aureus thrives in open wounds rather than in the gut, so handling meats contaminated with this strain of bacteria increases your chance for infection if you don’t take proper measures to protect your hands and cook your food thoroughly.
- You’ll increase Vegetable and fruit consumption: For years, Americans have been falling short of the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower the risk of obesity and certain chronic diseases, as well as reduce your chances of having heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. If you choose to eat less meat, you’ll have more opportunities to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption and reap the health benefits.
- You’ll reduce the risk of osteoporosis: Eating less meat may reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis by maintaining a healthy bone density. Meats have been shown to leach calcium from bones, which can become a serious problem for the elderly. Low bone density can make people more susceptible to bone breaks and fractures with age. Therefore, cutting back on meat consumption and maintaining a healthy calcium intake can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- You’ll lose weight: Eating less meat may be the ticket to losing those extra pounds and maintaining a healthy weight. High-protein diets may be the culprit of weight gain and the reason why people can’t shed the unwanted pounds. Of course, exercise and lifestyle play a major role in the weight loss process, but cutting down on your daily meat consumption may help you lose the weight faster.
- You’ll get enough protein: Increasing your meat consumption to get enough protein in your diet is not necessary. In fact, most people get enough protein from their diets without needing to add more meat to the mix. Cutting back on your meat consumption will not make a big difference in your protein intake or your health. Try replacing the meat you would have been eating with another high-protein source like eggs, milk, tofu or cottage cheese.
- You’ll lower your cholesterol: Eating less meat can have a significant effect on your cholesterol. The saturated fats in meat raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack or angina. Reducing your meat consumption and replacing it with more fruits and vegetables can help lower your bad cholesterol levels and raise your good cholesterol levels.
- You’ll reduce the risk of bowel cancer: Bowel cancer, also called colon cancer, is a deadly killer that takes thousands of lives every year. One important way to reduce your chances of developing bowel cancer is to eat less meat. Cutting back on meat, specifically red meat and processed meat, can significantly lower your chances of getting colon cancer because you’ll be lowering your fat intake.