Protein fights functional decline
Credit: Greg Nicholas / Getty Images

Animal meat has come under scrutiny in the last several months for potentially increasing the risk of cancer and diabetes. But a new study out of Japan has discovered a big boon to consuming more steak: It may help older men fight functional decline. The study found that men (average age of 67) who ate the most meat and fish reduced their chances of physical and mental decline by a whopping 39 percent over those who ate the least.

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Researchers believe the body's ability to absorb protein drops as we age, boosting our need for more of the nutrient, found in higher concentrations in animal meat. But senior dietician Georgia Giannopoulos at the Weill Cornell Center says this doesn't give anyone the green light to load up on sausage over soybeans.

"If eating animal protein can help someone reach his protein goal, I would encourage him to choose nutrient-rich animal protein such as eggs or heart-healthy fish, instead of something like processed red meat, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer."