May 28, 2024
How to reduce the risk of illness and increase life expectancy – healing practice

How to reduce the risk of illness and increase life expectancy – healing practice

Replacing the consumption of red meat as much as possible with fish such as herring, sardines and anchovies would not only protect many people worldwide from premature death, but also significantly reduce diet-related diseases and associated health disabilities.

A new study involving experts from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has examined how replacing red meat with so-called forage fish may impact diet-related non-communicable diseases. The results are published in the specialist journal “BMJ Global Health”.

Red and processed meat are unhealthy

There is increasing evidence that consumption of red and processed meat is associated with an increased risk of non-communicable diseases, particularly coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and colorectal cancer, the team reports.

Exactly such non-communicable diseases were responsible for around 70 percent of all deaths worldwide in 2019 alone.

What makes fish so healthy?

Replacing red and processed meat with so-called marine food fish (such as herrings, sardines and anchovies), i.e. fish that are eaten by larger fish, could help prevent many non-communicable diseases, according to the researchers.

These marine fish are known for their high content of long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), which can prevent coronary heart disease. They are also rich in calcium and vitamin B12, the experts report.

Thanks to these healthy ingredients, a diet with less red meat and more fish could be beneficial, especially in countries with particularly high levels of heart disease. So far, however, around three quarters of the feed fish caught are processed into fishmeal and fish oil, the team explains. Such products are primarily used in the breeding of deep-sea fish.

To find out how much the global burden of disease could be reduced if red meat were replaced with marine food fish, experts have now developed four different scenarios, each representing a different pattern of global distribution of food fish.

To do this, data on projected red meat consumption in 2050 for 137 countries as well as historical data on forage fish catches were used, the team explains.

Reduce coronary heart disease by eating fish

The results of the analysis indicate that widespread consumption of forage fish would likely provide significant public health benefits. This is particularly true for reducing the incidence of coronary heart disease, the researchers report.

By 2050, replacing red meat with forage fish could prevent half a million to 750,000 deaths from diet-related diseases, experts estimate. This applies in particular to deaths from coronary heart disease.

However, experts admit that it is not possible to replace the entire amount of red meat with forage fish because the amount of forage fish available is not sufficient. Nevertheless, it could be possible to bring the daily per capita consumption of fish close to the recommended 40 kcal in most countries.

According to the researchers, this could reduce the number of deaths from coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and colon cancer by two percent by 2050.

Global burden of disease can be reduced

Overall, the results of the analysis suggest that the global burden of disease could be reduced more effectively if all forage fish were allocated to regions with the lowest fish consumption. In countries that do not have direct access to fish, global marketing and trade in forage fish must also be expanded, the team says.

Despite the theoretical potential of forage fish, several obstacles such as fishmeal and oil processing, overfishing, climate change, and cultural acceptance may prevent the health benefits of forage fish from being realized“, the experts add in a press release from the BMJ.

More fish and less red meat

A diet in which as much red meat as possible is replaced with fish consumption could not only bring enormous health benefits and better protection against various diseases, but also effectively reduce the risk of premature death, especially due to coronary heart disease. (as)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Shujuan Xia, Jun’ya Takakura, Kazuaki Tsuchiya, Chaeyeon Park, Ryan F. Heneghan, et al.: Unlocking the potential of forage fish to reduce the global burden of disease; in: BMJ Global Healt (published April 9, 2024), BMJ Global Healt
  • BMJ: Swapping red meat for herring/sardines could save up to 750,000 lives/year in 2050 (published April 10, 2024), BMJ

Important NOTE:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.

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