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.”
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.