According to a large study from Harvard University, red meat -- especially processed meat - is clearly linked with a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. What's more, replacing red meat with healthier proteins such as low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains, can significantly lower the risk.
The study, published this week online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed 37,083 men for 20 years, 79,570 women for 28 years, and another 87,504 women followed for 14 years.
After accounting for age, body mass index (BMI) and other lifestyle and dietary risk factors, the researchers found that a daily 100-gram serving (3.5 ounces) of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 19% increased risk of type 2 diabetes. One daily 50 gram serving (almost 2 ounces) of processed meat (e.g. one hot dog or two slices of bacon) -- was associated with a 51% increased risk.
The researchers found that, for a person who eats one daily serving of red meat, substituting one serving (e.g. 1 ounce) of nuts per day was associated with a 21% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Substituting low-fat dairy was linked to a 17% lower risk and substituting whole grains led to a 23% lower risk.
The researchers advise that consumption of processed red meat -- like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and deli meats -- should be minimized and unprocessed red meat should be reduced. If possible, red meat should be replaced with nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish or beans.
Previous studies have also indicated that eating processed red meats increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
This new study -- the largest of its kind -- is among the first to estimate the risk reduction associated with substituting healthier protein choices for red meat.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.