New Heart Foundation research reveals how much red meat New Zealanders should be eating

If you eat more than three sausages worth of red meat a week - this story could save your life.

The Heart Foundation has released research which details how much red meat and chicken Kiwis should be eating - and it's a fairly lean quota.

A few lamb chops, and you'd be over the limit. The same goes for sausages. When you're counting red meat grams, it adds up quickly.

"We're not asking people to go vegan or cut red meat out completely," says Dave Monro, the Heart Foundation's Chief Advisor, Food and Nutrition.

The Heart Foundation is asking people to limit their beef, lamb and pork intake to 350 grams per person, per week.

"That 350 grams equates to around three meals a week," Monro told Newshub.

Heart disease is New Zealand's single biggest killer, and Heart Foundation reseach says that for every additional 100 grams eaten above the recommendation each day, there's a 15 percent higher risk of heart disease - and a 12 percent higher risk of having a stroke.

But not everyone is convinced about cutting back.

"I think we need a bit more than that," said one local Newshub spoke to.

"There's always these new things coming out, and I just do what I feel is best for [me] really," said another.

Ian Groves, the owner of Ellerslie Meats, has been a butcher for 30 years. He says Kiwis are already reducing their red meat intake. 

"You're probably looking at chicken taking up about 30 percent of sales these days compared to when we started, [which was] around 10 percent. So there's definitely a trend in the chicken direction."

But the Heart Foundation has found chicken does nothing for heart health - and plant protein is the way to go.

"Red meat can certainly be part of a healthy diet but replacing red meat with alternatives such as beans, chickpeas, soy and nuts has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels - a key risk factor for heart disease." says Monroe. 

So fire up the barbie - and chuck some chickpeas on the grill this summer.

This story was amended on October 29 to reflect the reseach was newly released.