Study Reveals Eating Red Meat Twice a Week May Heighten Type 2 Diabetes Risk

by Ella

A recent study has shed light on the potential risks associated with consuming red meat, suggesting that even consuming it just twice a week may increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. The research highlights the benefits of substituting red meat with plant-based protein sources, such as nuts and legumes, not only for reducing the risk of this health condition but also for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change concerns, according to experts from Harvard University.

Type 2 diabetes has emerged as one of the most rapidly growing major health threats worldwide. The prevalence of this condition has surged dramatically over the past three decades, as noted by the World Health Organization. While over 400 million people have received a formal diagnosis, millions more are likely unaware that they have the condition, which significantly contributes to complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation.


Amid this health crisis, research increasingly underscores the role of dietary choices in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, in addition to maintaining a healthy weight.


Previous studies have hinted at a connection between red meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, researchers from Harvard University contend that their recent research provides a higher degree of certainty regarding this association.


Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study examined health data from 216,695 individuals participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) in the United States. These participants completed dietary questionnaires every two to four years, with a follow-up period spanning up to 36 years. Throughout this timeframe, more than 22,000 individuals developed type 2 diabetes.


The research reveals that those who consumed the most red meat faced a 62% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who consumed the least amount. Furthermore, the study found that each additional daily serving of processed red meat was associated with a 46% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while unprocessed red meat correlated with a 24% higher risk.

Xiao Gu, the study’s first author and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 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.”

The study also estimated the potential benefits of replacing one daily serving of red meat with other protein sources. Substituting red meat with nuts and legumes was linked to a 30% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, while dairy products were associated with a 22% lower risk.

Walter Willett, the study’s senior author and a professor of epidemiology and nutrition, emphasized, “Given our findings and previous work by others, a limit of about one serving a week of red meat would be reasonable for people wishing to optimize their health and well-being.”

Researchers underscored that replacing red meat with healthier plant-based protein sources not only reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes but also offers environmental benefits by helping lower greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the fight against climate change.



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