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Results from a recent study that lasted more than 25 years and involved more than 80,000 women ages 30 to 55 revealed that those who eat a lot of red meat—along with processed meats and high-fat dairy products—have a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Specifically, said researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, women who consume a diet high in red meat experience more heart attacks and have a higher death rate from heart disease when compared with those who tend to consume leaner protein sources such as fish, poultry, nuts and low-fat dairy products.

The data confirm previous findings about the relationship between diet and heart disease, and scientists hope that more studies like this one will increase awareness about the importance of developing healthy eating habits. Among the recommendations were simple changes such as swapping ham and cheese for a peanut butter and banana sandwich, and opting for veggie burgers instead of beef.

In addition to promoting heart health, a diet that includes plenty of lean protein sources as well as fiber-rich fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains has been shown to support optimal weight management and healthy blood sugar, both of which may help combat the high rates of obesity and obesity-related disease so prominent in the United States.

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