Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston suggest eating healthier protein-rich foods -- such as fish, poultry, low-fat dairy and nuts -- instead of red and processed meats, may reduce heart disease risk.
"There are good protein-rich sources that do not involve red meat," first author Dr. Adam Bernstein says in a statement. "You don't need to have hot dogs, hamburgers, bologna or pastrami, which are all fresh or processed meats."
The study, published in the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, finds women having two servings per day of red meat had a 30 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who had half a serving per day.
The risk of heart disease was lowered 30 percent when a daily serving of red meat was replaced by nuts. Another red-meat replacement -- fish -- lowered cardiac risk 24 percent and poultry reduced heart risk by 19 percent.
Bernstein and colleagues examined medical history and lifestyle -- including diet -- for 84,136 women, ages 30-55, enrolled the Nurses' Health Study from 1980 to 2006. During the 26-year period, the researchers documented 2,210 non-fatal heart attacks and 952 deaths from coronary heart disease.