Top 10 Cities That Love Red Meat -- Too Much
Red Meat: A Recipe for Aging

Top 10 Cities That Love Red Meat -- Too Much

Find out where residents eat the most artery-clogging beef and pork.

1 / 14 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.

Our Beef with Red Meat

2 / 14 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. 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, which reduces the carcinogens you would otherwise ingest.”

Tip: 3 ways to have a guilt-free barbecue


Get On a Healthy Track

3 / 14 Get On a Healthy Track

Is red meat a staple in your diet? “Making a change from 10 servings a week to three servings can make a real difference in how long you live,” says Roach. Another benefit of cutting down on red meat: “Good habits tend to reinforce other good habits,” says Roach. “Maybe cutting down on red meat 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 and get tips to live a healthier lifestyle.
1. New Orleans, LA

4 / 14 1. New Orleans, LA

“The Big Easy” is full of carnivores, topping our list of red-meat-eating cities for 2013 -- one possible reason why residents of this Louisiana hotspot have the third highest hypertension rate on our Aging Cities List. Ironically, this food-loving city is known for its “food deserts” -- neighborhoods with little access to healthy food options. It doesn’t help that out of 73 neighborhoods in New Orleans, nearly 40 of them don’t have a supermarket nearby.
2. St. Louis, MO

5 / 14 2. St. Louis, MO

While this Midwestern city takes our #2 spot on the red meat list, it’s also our 10th on our Aging Cities List, meaning that residents here are aging too fast. St. Louis ranks poorly in cholesterol, blood pressure and C-reactive protein (a sign of inflammation that increases your risk of heart attack). In fact, Missouri as a whole spends a whopping $3.2 billion a year treating heart disease, stroke and hypertension.


3. Kansas City, MO

6 / 14 3. Kansas City, MO

Kansas City, a.k.a. Cowtown -- though the famous Kansas City Stockyards closed in 1991 -- is synonymous with steak. In fact, their minor league baseball team is called the T-Bones. That’s why it’s not particularly surprising that Kansas City is in the #3 spot on our red meat overload list. Residents here would do well to improve their diets by eating more fruits and veggies, which, along with more exercise, could help counter the effects of all that meat.


4. Columbus, OH

7 / 14 4. Columbus, OH

Home to The Ohio State University, residents of this capital city actually eat pretty well, ranking in the top 10 for whole grains and diet diversity. They are also in the middle of the road for exercise. But despite these healthy habits, Columbus residents eat too much red meat and rank pretty high in hypertension, cholesterol and C-reactive protein. With restaurants like Schmidt’s Sausage Haus (that offers an all you can eat sausage buffet) and the Thurman Café (which sells an enormous burger dubbed the “Thurmanator”) it’s easy to see why. 


5. Detroit, MI

8 / 14 5. Detroit, MI

The fifth biggest meat-eating city is Detroit. Most residents in this populous Michigan town live twice as far from the nearest supermarket as they do from a fast food restaurant -- meaning more burgers and fries and less fresh produce. Residents of the “Motor City” also rank poorly in cholesterol and exercise, both factors that can lower your RealAge. “People often find that when they change one habit to improve their health, it’s easier to make changes in other areas,” says Roach. “If they exercise it becomes easier to eat healthy and vice versa.”


Tip: Make healthy fast food choices

6. Oklahoma City, OK

9 / 14 6. Oklahoma City, OK

Home to one of the largest livestock markets in the world, it’s no surprise that Oklahoma City ranks high on our list. Residents here love their meat, but aren’t too keen on eating vegetables, fruits or whole grains, which contributes to high rates of hypertension and cholesterol. Poor diet is also why Oklahoma City ranks 4th on our Top Cities for Aging Report. The USDA’s “My Plate" guidelines recommend that you fill half your plate with fruits and veggies and make half of your grains whole gains. A diet rich in whole grains can help you avoid diabetes, heart disease and gum disease -- not to mention belly fat.


Tip: Top 10 things to know about belly fat

7. Memphis, TN

10 / 14 7. Memphis, TN

Memphis is home to the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which won the title of largest barbeque in the world from the Guinness Book of World Records -- serving up 55,297 pounds of pork. So it’s no surprise that Memphis ranks high for red meat excess. Unfortunately, it’s also the 9th oldest city among RealAge test takers, thanks to high rates of hypertension and poor blood sugar control, and some of the lowest rates of exercise.


8. Indianapolis, IN

11 / 14 8. Indianapolis, IN

Carnivores have plenty to chew on in Indianapolis: Supreme steakhouses dot the landscape on all sides of this city. Even though people here don’t have the worst diets (they actually eat a fair amount of veggies and whole grains), the city still ranks in the top 10 for hypertension and poor exercise, both contributors to RealAge. “High blood pressure has to do with stiff arteries,” says Roach. “The meat stiffens them.” What you want are flexible arteries, which are critical to blood flow and cardiovascular health -- and that means putting more fish and white meat on the menu.


9. Charlotte, NC

12 / 14 9. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte residents love their red meat, but fruits and vegetables -- not so much. In fact, only 23% of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County adults eat the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies a day. On the other hand, the “Queen City” isn’t terrible when it comes to cholesterol or exercise. But according to Roach, “even if cholesterol levels are good, you can still benefit from better eating habits.”


10. Austin, TX

13 / 14 10. Austin, TX

Last on our red meat list is the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World.” Austinites actually rank high in exercise and healthy eating behavior -- but love to pig out on their pork, brisket and other red meats. One of the more surprising facts about Austin is that women outpace men in meat eating by almost twice as much (ranking 44 versus 23 for men). Still, Austin is a good example of “pick your own indulgence” behavior without doing yourself in. Eating meat is not nearly as bad for your health as say, smoking or eating a poor diet coupled with no exercise, but it certainly factors into your RealAge.


Tip: 7 ways to eat meat and stay healthy


Hold the Beef!

14 / 14 Hold the Beef!

While eating too much red meat is bad for your health, red meat in moderation -- no more than three servings a week -- can be a part of a healthy diet. These cities made our Top 10 List for eating just the right amount of meat.
1. Milwaukee, WI

2. Boston, MA

3. Sacramento, CA

4. Pittsburgh, PA

5. Louisville, KY

6. Philadelphia, PA

7. Cincinnati, OH

8. Rochester, NY

9. Washington, DC

10. Providence, RI
Check out all our Top Cities reports.