Carefully Selecting Meats to Eat Can Help Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Summer is upon us and the grills are being cranked up across the country. But a new study suggests that you should be careful about what you put on that grill if you want to avoid developing type 2 diabetes (T2DM).

    The study, which is out of the National University of Singapore, involved 150,000 people who had participated in three longitudinal studies at Harvard University. Most of the participants were nurses and doctors who kept food frequency questionnaires that described the types of food and drink that were consumed at the beginning of the study and at each four-year mark. The Singapore researchers were able to mine 20 years of data from these participants.

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    The researchers analysis found that the participants who ate more than a half-serving of red meat per day over a four-year period (which amounted to about 3.5 additional servings per week) had a 48 percent increase in the risk of developing this form of diabetes over the subsequent four-year period as compared to people who didn’t change their red meat consumption. The researchers also found that eating processed red meats (such as sausages, hot dogs and bacon) was more strongly associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

    And while reducing red-meat consumption by a half-serving per day did not lower the risk of developing diabetes over a four-year period, it did reduce the risk by 14 percent during a 10-year follow-up period.

    The American Diabetes Association recommends eating a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of foods including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, poultry and fish. Lean meats include  cuts of pork or beef that end in "loin." The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding the following meat sources when eating a healthy diet to protect yourself from developing Type 2 diabetes:

    • Saturated fats, which are found in dairy products and animal proteins such as beef, hot dogs, sausage and bacon. The clinic recommends consuming no more than 7 percent of your daily calories from this type of food.
    • Cholesterol, which can be found in high-fat dairy products and high-fat animal proteins, egg yolks, shellfish, liver and other organ meat. The clinic’s recommendation is to eat no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day.

    The Wall Street Journal talked to Dr. William J. Evans, who has ties to both Duke University and GlaxoSmithKline PLC, who recommended opting for lean cuts of red meat if you’re planning on eating it as part of your diet. These choices include sirloin tips or round steak instead of high-fat cuts of meat, such as rib-eye. The Mayo Clinic pointed out that 29 cuts of beef meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulations in order to qualify as lean or extra lean. Five cuts are considered extra lean: eye of round roast or steak; sirloin tip side steak; top round roast and steak; bottom round roast and steak; and top sirloin steak.
    The clinic also encourages you to ask the butcher, grocer, restaurant server or chef which cuts of beef are lean or extra lean. “But keep in mind that the same cuts of beef can have different names,” the clinic warned. “For example, a boneless top loin steak may also be called a strip steak or club sirloin steak.”

  • The Mayo Clinic also offered four recommendations to consider when selecting cuts of beef:

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    • Opt for cuts that are graded “Choice” or “Select” and stay away from cuts graded as “Prime” which often has more fat.
    • Select cuts with the least amount of visible fat.
    • Pick ground beef that has the lowest percentage of fat.
    • Limit the amount of beef organs you eat to about 3 ounces per month.

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

    American Diabetes Association. (nd.). Diabetes meal plans and a healthy diet.

    Aubrey, A. (2013). Hot dogs, bacon and red meat tied to increased diabetes risk.

    Dooren, J. C. (2013). Major study examines meat-diabetes link. The Wall Street Journal.

    Mayo Clinic. (2010). Cuts of beef: A guide to the leanest selections.

    Mayo Clinic. (2013). Diabetes diet: create your healthy-eating plan.

    Pan, A., et al. (2013). Changes in red meat consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: Three cohorts of US men and women. JAMA Internal Medicine.

Published On: June 18, 2013