Harvard Heart Letter

Red meat: Avoid the processed stuff

Beef, pork and other red meats are okay for the heart, but not hot dogs, cold cuts, and other processed meat.

Many people who try to follow a healthful diet eat red meat with a side order of guilt. A study suggests that eating beef, lamb, pork, and other red meat is okay for your heart and arteries as long as it hasn't been smoked, cured, salted, or otherwise preserved. But go easy on processed meats like bacon, cold cuts, and hot dogs.

Dietitian Renata Micha and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health gathered information from 20 completed or ongoing studies of diet and health. It gave them detailed data on diet, including meat consumption, from 1.2 million initially healthy participants, 27,000 of whom went on to develop heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.

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