The risks of too much meat and cheese in your diet

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. - According to a new study involving more than 6,000 people, those in their 50's and 60's eating too much food with animal based protein -- including meat and cheese -- may put you at risk of early death.

"My cholesterol used to be high, and now it's perfect. So I just limit my meat intake." 51-year-old Venice resident Kathryn Triolo attributes her good diet to good health. "Six days a week vegetarian, Saturday nights: hamburgers."

But Rosemary Fornadel is 72 years old and says she has no concern that meat and cheese may not be good for you. "We'll have a roast beef, or we'll have a barbeque. We don't eat much cheese, my husband's not into cheese."

Sue Miller says she does eat some meat. "Sometimes it will be a hamburger, but we buy the leanest chopped meat we can get; sometimes it's a lean cut of steak. That's a treat, because usually it’s chicken, it’s fish, it's the other white meat."

At age 59, she is in good health, but knows of health implications associated with eating both meat and cheese. "We've cut back our red meat, so we try to have red meat once a week, maybe as opposed to it used to be four to five when we were younger."

She isn’t willing to give it all up. "I love cheese, but I watch my portion size."

She makes up for it by adding healthy choices. "We now read labels; we've cut back the amount of portions and we're heavy on fruits and vegetables."

Miller is onto something, because the study also finds eating plant-based proteins like nuts and beans seemed to reverse the unhealthy trend.

But at Venice’s “Lifestyles After Fifty” expo, plant based proteins carrying health benefits were not to be found. But that didn’t stop Canadian visitor Vilma Wace from enjoying a hot dog. “That's what they provided…pulled pork, hot dogs and hamburgers."

The best way to find out how much protein you should be eating is to ask your doctor, and try as much as possible to have those proteins come from plant-based products.