A new study conducted by experts at Harvard University has found that consuming just two servings of red meat per week may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Previous studies have already shown a link between red meat consumption and type 2 diabetes risk, but this new research provides further evidence of the association.
The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analyzed health data from 216,695 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The participants’ diet was assessed using food frequency questionnaires every two to four years for up to 36 years.
The results of the study showed that those who consumed the most red meat had a 62% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who consumed the least. Additionally, every additional daily serving of processed red meat was associated with a 46% greater risk, while every additional daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 24% greater risk.
The lead researcher of the study, Xiao Gu, emphasized the importance of limiting red meat consumption based on their findings. Gu stated, “Our findings strongly support dietary guidelines that recommend limiting the consumption of red meat, and this applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat.”
However, the study also highlighted the potential benefits of replacing red meat with healthier alternatives. The researchers found that substituting one daily serving of red meat with nuts and legumes could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30%, while substituting it with dairy products could reduce the risk by 22%. These plant-based protein sources provide not only health benefits but also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide other environmental benefits.
Senior author Walter Willett suggested that a limit of about one serving per week of red meat would be reasonable for those who want to optimize their health and wellbeing, based on their findings and previous research. He added, “Given our findings and previous work by others, a limit of about one serving per week of red meat would be reasonable for people wishing to optimize their health and wellbeing.”
This study adds to the growing body of evidence that supports the need for individuals to limit their red meat consumption. Not only does reducing red meat intake potentially lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but it also has other health and environmental benefits. Therefore, individuals are encouraged to consider incorporating healthier, plant-based alternatives into their diet for improved overall health outcomes.