Thinking Twice About that Burger

Do you have to be a vegetarian to lose weight or prevent diabetes? Not exactly, but you do need to watch your intake of red meat, especially the processed kind, such as fast food hamburgers, sausage, ham and salami. A 2011 study found that the more red meat you eat, the higher the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). And the risk factors for weight gain and T2D overlap quite a bit, because the causative mechanism behind them are similar, that being inflammation.

This study looked at data collected from two very large, long-term studies, one being the Nurses Health Study, the other was the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. What it found was that for every serving of red meat consumed, the risk for developing T2D increased significantly. One of the interesting points is that the portion size for processed meat was half the size of that for unprocessed red meat. This means that processed meat is much more detrimental when compared gram for gram to regular red meat. The researchers in this study calculated that for each daily serving of meat that is replaced by a nutritious food such as whole grains or nuts, the risk of developing T2D decreased by 16-35%!

Do you cringe at the thought of giving up red meat? No need, because not all red meat is “bad” for your health. Grass fed, organic red meat contains more omega-3 than that of standard, grain- fed cows, so is much less inflammatory, and less likely to cause diabetes and weight gain. But as always with any food, moderation is key.

References: Am J Clin Nutr 2011 94: 4 10881096

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