If you eat red or processed meats, limit yourself to less than 2 servings per day. A serving is 3 ounces. People who do this have the lowest risk for heart disease and cancer compared to people who eat more than 2 servings a day.

It is hard for experts to measure the effects of a single food on diseases like heart disease and cancer. These diseases take many years to develop in a person. People’s food patterns often change over the years. It is even harder to measure the number of servings of red meat that are best for you. Studies show that people who consume more red meat have a 17% higher risk of colorectal cancer compared to people consuming less red meat. Some studies show the risk is also higher for prostate and pancreatic cancer when you consume more red meat.

One study estimated that for every extra serving of red meat per day, the risk of death from heart-related problems went up about 18% and the risk of dying from cancer went up about 10%.

Another thing to remember. When you lower the amount of red meat you eat, replace the calories with healthy choices. You may not lower your risk if you replace red meat with junk food or foods high in fat, salt, or sugar. Healthier proteins are fish, turkey, or chicken. Replacing calories with plant-based foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is even healthier.

Less red meat can’t be beat!