Two Red Meat Servings A Week Could Raise Type 2 Diabetes Risk, Study Finds

Those who ate the most red meat were 62 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes


2 Minutes Read

Man cutting red meat, which is linked to type 2 diabetes The new study goes further in proving the link between red meat and type 2 diabetes - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

A major new study has found that eating red meat just twice a week increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

After tracking 216,695 participants through diet questionnaires for more than three decades, researchers at Harvard University recorded some 22,761 cases of type 2 diabetes.

Those who consumed the most red meat had a 62 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the least.

Crucially, swapping just one serving a day of red meat for nuts or legumes led to a 30 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

The problem with red meat

Several studies have already shown a link between red meat and type 2 diabetes. 

Given the new research’s scale and large sample, it goes further in providing greater statistical certainty.

First author Xiao Gu commented: “Our findings strongly support dietary guidelines that recommend limiting the consumption of red meat, and this applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat.”

Aerial shot of colourful array of vegetables and plant-based foods that can lower risk of type 2 diabetes
Adobe Stock The new study adds more evidence to the claim that plant-based foods reduce the risk of disease

What is type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. 

The number of cases and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes have both risen steadily over the past few decades, according to the World Health Organization. This makes tackling it a key public health battle around the world.

As well as the severe toll the disease causes on its sufferers and healthcare systems, type 2 diabetes is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney disease, cancer, and dementia.

Plant-based diets are better for health and planet 

The results are a clear example of the positive effects of switching to a plant-based diet. The researchers also point out that vegan protein comes with lower greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental benefits.

Within a growing body of research extolling the virtues of plant-based diets, the strong evidence of lower type 2 diabetes risk could be seen as another reason for governments to encourage a transition towards plant-based food systems.

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