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This Month In Diet
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Health and Fitness News

Meat Matters

Five reasons to eat less meat, starting today.

What’s on the menu? Whether beef, pork, or lamb, meat is a big part of the Western diet. Bacon and sausage for breakfast, a hamburger for lunch, and pork chops for dinner. While meat is enjoyed for its taste, it’s also rich in protein, iron, B vitamins, and zinc. In fact, it’s one of the only ways to get vitamin B12, an essential vitamin for brain function, nerve health, and building red blood cells.

But these days, there’s a lot of talk about going meat-free. Or at least eating less meat. Some people go all the way with a vegetarian diet, while others choose a flexitarian way of eating. With this flexible alternative, plant-based foods make up the majority of your diet, and meat is eaten on occasion.

So what’s the big deal about meat? Why should you consider eating less of it? Keep reading to find out.

#1: Save Money

Meat is one of the more expensive ways to put dinner on the table. For families looking to save on their grocery bill each month, going meat-free is one way to do it.

Since you still need a source of protein at each meal, center your meal around other options. Try poultry, seafood, beans, lentils, chickpeas, eggs, quinoa, tempeh, or tofu. You’ll save money and get a wider variety of nutrients at the same time.

#2: Protect Your Heart

Money not a problem? Heart health is. Those who eat a plant-based diet have a lower risk of heart problems. There’s evidence that a diet high in red meat increases your risk of heart disease. This may be due to meat’s high saturated fat content. Replacing the saturated fat in your diet with unsaturated fat is one way to protect your heart health.

Processed meats are some of the worst meats for your heart. They’re generally high in sodium, which ups your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. Steering clear of bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and deli meat may be painful. But it’s a simple way to take care of your heart.

#3: Lose Weight

If you’re looking to lose or maintain your weight, cutting back on meat can help. Plant-based diets have a reputation of leading to weight loss. And rightly so. The way it works is simple.

With plant-based foods, you swap out meat for protein sources that are higher in fiber, lower in calories, and lower in saturated fat. Of course, stripping out some meat isn’t all you should do to lose weight. The pounds won’t go anywhere if you continue eating processed foods, refined carbs, and added sugars.

#4: Help Prevent Cancer

Some types of meat are associated with a greater risk of certain cancers. For example, eating a lot of red meat and processed meat increases your risk of colorectal and breast cancers.

The exact reason for this is unknown. Some suspect it’s due to meat’s high saturated fat content. Others claim it’s the carcinogenic compounds that get formed when meat is processed and cooked at high temperatures. Whatever the cause, plant-based foods don’t have such risks. In fact, a plant-based diet seems to have a protective effect from cancer.

#5: Protect the Environment

In addition to health and financial benefits, many people cut back on meat in an effort to protect the environment. Compared to the production of plant foods, the meat processing industry requires more energy and natural resources. It also produces gas emissions and pollution, which have a negative impact on the environment.