Red meat increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even two servings of red meat per week appear to significantly increase the risk of diabetes. Replacing red meat with healthy plant-based protein sources can significantly reduce this risk.
A new study involving experts from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health examined the connection between red meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, the team estimated how replacing red meat with other protein sources affects the risk of diabetes. The results are published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”.
Link between red meat and diabetes
Not only does type 2 diabetes itself represent a serious health burden, but the disease is also an important risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney diseases, cancer and dementia, the researchers explain.
Previous research has shown a connection between red meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes. In the new study, the research team examined this connection using the health data of a total of 216,695 participants who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), the NHS II and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).
Diet of the participants was analyzed
Information about the participants’ diet was collected every two to four years for up to 36 years using food frequency questionnaires. During this period, more than 22,000 participants developed type 2 diabetes.
Red meat increases risk of type 2 diabetes
The team found that red meat consumption, which included processed and unprocessed red meat, was associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Participants who consumed the highest amounts of red meat had a 62 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people with the lowest red meat consumption, the team reports.
Processed red meat is particularly dangerous
The researchers add that each additional serving of processed red meat consumed per day was associated with a 46 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, each additional portion of unprocessed red meat consumed per day increased the risk of diabetes by 24 percent.
Replace red meat with nuts and legumes
The experts also examined what effect it would have if one portion of red meat consumed per day were replaced by another protein source. It found that replacing it with a serving of nuts and legumes was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
However, replacing one serving of red meat with one serving of a dairy product was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes, the team adds.
- Legumes: Combine plant-based protein sources correctly
- Nutrition: Source of protein – how to prepare healthy legumes
- Why red meat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Red meat: method of preparation influences risk of heart attack and stroke
Red meat no more than once a week
Based on the new study results and those from previous research, study author Professor Walter Willett believes that people who want to optimize their health and well-being should reduce their weekly consumption of red meat to around one serving per week.
“Our results support dietary guidelines that recommend limiting red meat consumption, and this applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat,” study author Xiao Gu added in a press release. (as)