Heart Disease Alert! Top 10 Cities that Love Red Meat -- Too Much

Discover the 10 worst cities for eating too much red meat.
Discover the 10 worst cities for eating too much red meat.

By Rachael Anderson

Red Meat: A Recipe for Aging

Who doesn't love a juicy steak or a burger hot off the grill? But when it comes to aging, too much of the red stuff is a bad thing. "Red meat is always harmful above a certain threshold," says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Sharecare and co-creator of the RealAge Test. In fact, eating more than two servings of red meat a day (that's the equivalent of 6 ounces, or the size of two decks of cards) can make your RealAge 1 year older for men and 2 years older for women. That's why we factored red meat into the RealAge 2013 Youngest & Oldest Cities in America Report.

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Our Beef with Red Meat

Red meat (defined as anything that walks on four legs, such as beef from cattle, and pork from pigs) is packed with saturated fat, which clogs your arteries, raises your LDL cholesterol and increases cancer risk. But a new study suggests another way in which red meat contributes to heart disease. "Natural bacteria in our gut works on the meat and causes carnitine, an amino acid, to be released," says Dr. Roach. "The carnitine then triggers the release of TMAO into the blood through the action of bacteria. And that's what seems to cause increased risk of blockages in the arteries."

Is Your City Keeping You Young?

Potential health problems further increase when you throw that slab of pork ribs or hot dogs on the grill and cook them till they're charred. "When you grill meat there's a chemical reaction that causes cancer-producing chemicals," says Roach. "But you can reduce that risk by not grilling on high heat and marinating the meat ahead of time, especially in red wine. Not only is the marinade delicious, it dramatically reduces the carcinogens you would otherwise ingest."

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More Juicy Details about Red Meat

The biggest red-meat eaters in our RealAge Report chow down on four to six servings a day - that's 5 to 8 pounds of meat a week! Men, not surprisingly, are the bigger meat fans. "Making a change from 10 servings a week to three servings," says Roach, "can make a real difference in how long you live and how much better you feel." If you need a red meat fix, Roach recommends buying grass-fed eye round and bottom round cuts, sliced thin. "Those cuts have the least amount of saturated fat," says Roach. Grass-fed beef also has more omega 3 and healthy nutrients, which help prevent and control heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. Corn-fed beef, on the other hand, has more omega 6, which, in excess, causes inflammation. The trouble is, 90% of the beef produced and sold in this country is corn fed -- making it even more difficult to make the healthier choice.

Even though red meat may seem like it has a relatively small effect on one's RealAge, Roach says little changes can lead to big results. "Good habits tend to reinforce other good habits," says Roach. "Maybe cutting down on red meat to once a week can start someone on the path of making other changes. And when you add them all up, it could mean big improvements in your RealAge results." Find out which cities are consuming the most red meat -- along with tips for healthy eating.

Discover Why These Cities Made Our Top 10 List

1. New Orleans, LA
2. St. Louis, MO
3. Kansas City, MO
4. Columbus, OH
5. Detroit, MI
6. Oklahoma City, OK
7. Memphis, TN
8. Indianapolis, IN
9. Charlotte, NC
10. Austin, TX

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