Eating red meat is linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes

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A new study led by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals a concerning association between red meat consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The research indicates that even consuming just two servings of red meat per week may elevate the risk of type 2 diabetes, with the risk increasing as meat consumption rises.

Furthermore, the study highlights that substituting red meat with healthier plant-based protein sources or modest amounts of dairy can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Understanding the Health Impact

Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern globally, posing a significant burden on public health.

Not only does this disease carry serious health implications, but it also elevates the risk of other conditions, including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, cancer, and dementia.

The study underscores the need to address dietary factors contributing to type 2 diabetes, and its findings offer valuable insights.

This study stands out due to its extensive analysis of health data from over 216,000 participants, who were followed for up to 36 years.

Such a long-term and large-scale study enhances the certainty of the link between red meat consumption and type 2 diabetes risk. While prior research had hinted at this connection, this study provides more conclusive evidence.

Red Meat and Risk

The researchers discovered a strong correlation between red meat consumption, both processed and unprocessed, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Those who consumed the most red meat faced a staggering 62% higher risk of developing the disease compared to those who consumed the least.

Even minor increases in daily servings of processed or unprocessed red meat were linked to significantly greater risk.

Healthier Alternatives

One of the notable findings was that replacing red meat with healthier protein sources can mitigate the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Substituting a daily serving of red meat with nuts and legumes was associated with a 30% lower risk of the disease. Similarly, swapping red meat for dairy products resulted in a 22% lower risk.

These findings emphasize the value of incorporating plant-based proteins into one’s diet.

Recommendations for a Healthier Diet

Based on these findings and previous research, the study’s senior author, Professor Walter Willett, suggests a reasonable limit of about one serving of red meat per week for those aiming to optimize their health.

Such dietary adjustments not only offer health benefits but also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change, aligning with broader environmental goals.


The study’s revelation of the link between red meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes underscores the importance of dietary choices in preventing this prevalent and impactful disease.

Making conscious decisions to replace red meat with healthier protein sources, such as nuts, legumes, or dairy, can significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and contribute to overall well-being.

These findings encourage individuals to make dietary choices that benefit both personal health and the environment.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about Keto diet could help control body weight, blood sugar in type 2 diabetes and what you need to know about avocado and type 2 diabetes.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about vitamin that may protect you from type 2 diabetes, and results showing this common chemical in food may harm your blood pressure.

The research findings can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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