Processed and Red Meat Linked to Diabetes Risk

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Eating processed and red meat regularly may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health recently analyzed data from studies involving a total of over 440,000 people over 10 years. Over six percent, or about 28,000, of those people developed type 2 diabetes during the ten-year time span. After taking into consideration other factors like weight, physical activity level, smoking and family history diabetes, researchers discovered the following dietary links to diabetes:

Eating two ounces of processed meat per day (hot dog, bacon, salami or bologna) increased the risk of diabetes by 50%.

Eating four ounces of unprocessed red meat per day (hamburger, steak, pork or lamb) was associated with a 20% increased risk of diabetes.

And the good news…

Substituting nuts, whole grains and low-fat dairy (like yogurt) for these meats decreased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 16 to 35%.

The researchers attribute the high amount of salt, nitrites and nitrates in processed meats as possible reasons for the increased risk; and high amounts of iron may be the culprit in red meats. Further, people eating high amounts of processed and red meats may not be eating enough nuts, beans and fish, stated Vivian Fonesca of the American Diabetes Association, in response to these studies.

This week, take a look at your meat intake. If you are eating processed meats try to cut back and replace these with healthier foods. One alternative might be nitrate- and nitrite-free meats like bacon and lunchmeats.  These options still pack a lot of salt, however, so don’t be too liberal with this substitution. Opt for nuts and whole grains instead. As for red meats, cut them back as much as possible. Higher red meat consumption is also associated with colon cancer risk, so it’s best to minimize this food. Further, meats like beef and pork require high-input agriculture. That means they require a lot more water and cropland to produce, especially when compared to a more plant-based diet.

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