Eat Toast not Bacon: Red and Processed Meats Increase Diabetes Risk

Think twice before tucking in to bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning – it could seriously increase your chances of developing diabetes, new studies suggest.  Eating a yogurt or a slice of whole-wheat toast instead will reduce your risk, say the researchers.

Red meat such as beef and lamb, and processed meats such as sausage, smoked bacon, ham and hot dogs can boost the chances of getting diabetes when eaten regularly, as well as being implicated in higher likelihood of developing heart disease and cancer.

Although the US meat industry has scoffed at the study, published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the numbers show a correlation between high red meat consumption and diabetes.  The research found that anyone who ate a 3.5 ounce portion of unprocessed red meat such as beef or hamburger a day – a piece the size of a pack of cards – stood a 19% greater chance of developing diabetes.  With processed meats, such as ham, bacon and sausage, the risk was still greater, with anyone eating 2oz – equivalent to two slices of bacon or one hot dog – a day running a 51% higher risk.

Scientists from Harvard carried out the study, researching 20 years of records relating to male patients from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.  They also looked at a total of 42 years of records relating to women from two Nurses’ Health Studies.  The records covered more than 200,000 participants, and more than 442,000 patients’ histories were scrutinized.  Of these 28,228 actually became diabetic while taking part in the studies.

The dietary habits of the patients studied were analyzed and related to their health in later life.  It was found that those who regularly ate red meat or processed meat had an increased chance of developing type II diabetes, but those who substituted wholegrain foods for the meat had a 23% lower risk, and substituting nuts gave a 21% lesser risk.  Substituting a low fat dairy food, such as yogurt or cottage cheese, caused a 17% drop in the risk.  The studies took into account lifestyle factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, ethnicity, and other risk factors.

A high fat diet may be associated with obesity, which is in turn linked strongly to the development of type II diabetes later in life.  Eating trans fats, or hydrogenated vegetable fats, have also been linked to an increased risk of the disease.

The good news is that white meats such as poultry and fish were not associated in the research with increased risk of diabetes.  These low fat proteins are a healthy alternative to red meats and processed meats, and offer lower cholesterol levels.  Other healthier proteins include nuts, pulses, seeds, lower fat dairy, and eggs.

TheUSmeat industry reacted with criticism to the study, saying it had not proven any link between the consumption of meat and diabetes, and that lean red meat is a healthy choice.  A spokesperson also criticized the study, saying relying on people to recall eating habits over a long period would not produce accurate results or data.

American Meat Industry vice president Janet Riley said, “Many of these suggestions could be nothing more than statistical noise.”

Next Post → ← Previous Post