Revealed: How much red meat you should eat, according to scientists
Revealed: How much red meat you should limit yourself to each WEEK, according to scientists (and it’s bad news if you like bacon for breakfast…)
- US researchers examined eating habits and diabetes rates for 200,000 people
- Results show eating two servings of red meat a week raises type 2 diabetes risk
A couple of sausages and rashers of bacon are staples of a full English breakfast.
But, in a blow to red meat fans, scientists warned today that just two servings a week may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Harvard University researchers, who examined the eating habits and diabetes rates for 200,000 people, advised sticking to one serving per week to ‘optimise health’.
But a typical 70g serving is roughly equivalent to just two thick rashers of bacon or one-and-a-half sausages, meaning a cooked breakfast has around 130g.
As it stands, UK health chiefs advise Brits to eat no more than one 70g serving a day.
A typical 70g serving is approximately equivalent to just two thick rashers of bacon or one-and-a-half sausages, meaning a cooked breakfast has around 130g. As it stands, UK health chiefs advise Brits to eat no more than one 70g serving a day. However, experts behind the new health warning classed one serving of processed red meat as 28-45g, while a portion of unprocessed red meat was 85g
The findings suggest that eating just two bacon sandwiches, one burger or two-thirds of an 8oz steak raises the type 2 diabetes risk
This amount of meat is also equivalent to five slices of ham, half a beef burger or one third of a typical steak.
Five tablespoons of cooked mince, half a lamb steak, one-and-a-half tinned hot dogs or 15 slices of pepperoni or salami also hit the 70g toll.
However, experts behind the new health warning classed one serving of processed red meat as 28-45g, while a portion of unprocessed red meat was 85g.
Red meat has been demonised for decades due to a wealth of evidence suggesting that eating too much can raise the risk of heart disease, cancer and an early grave.
Although it is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and B vitamins, it can be high in salt and saturated fat.
And processed varieties can be packed with controversial preservatives and chemicals designed to keep it fresher, enhance taste and boost appearance.
No specific reasons have been found for why red meat may lead to an increased diabetes risk.
What does a 70g serving of red meat look like?
Two thick rashers of bacon
Five slices of ham
Half a burger
One third of a typical steak
Five tablespoons of cooked mince
But red and processed meat intake has been linked with weight gain and being overweight or obese are among the highest risk factors for developing the condition.
UK health chiefs recommend consuming no more than 70g of red meat — such as beef, lamb or pork — or processed meat — such as ham, bacon and salami — a day.
Previous studies have indicated a link between red meat consumption and type 2 diabetes risk, but the researchers said their study adds a greater level of certainty about the association.
Experts examined the health records and dietary patterns of 216,695 people who were quizzed about what they ate every two to four years, for up to 36 years.
During this time, more than 22,000 participants developed type 2 diabetes.
Results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show that eating red meat — both processed and unprocessed — was strongly associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Those who ate the most red meat — around two-and-a-half servings a day — had a 62 per cent higher risk of developing the condition compared with those who ate the least.
And every additional daily serving of processed red meat was associated with a 46 per cent greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
Each extra daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 24 per cent greater risk, the study found.
However, substituting a serving of red meat for dairy products was linked to a 22 per cent lower risk.
Despite the study primarily looking at daily meat servings, researchers argued their findings showed a clear risk for anything above two portions a week.
Xiao Gu, lead author and postdoctoral research fellow in the department of nutrition, said: ‘Our findings strongly support dietary guidelines that recommend limiting the consumption of red meat.
‘This applies to both processed and unprocessed red meat.’
Professor Walter Willett, senior study author and an expert in epidemiology and nutrition, said: ‘Given our findings and previous work by others, a limit of about one serving per week of red meat would be reasonable for people wishing to optimise their health and wellbeing.’
According to the scientists, swapping red meat for healthy plant protein sources would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change, and provide other environmental benefits.
Around 3.9million Britons have type 2 diabetes, with an additional 850,000 thought to be living with the condition but not yet diagnosed.
In the US, around 33million have type 2 diabetes.
The number of adults living with diabetes is expected to more than double by 2050 due to a surge in obesity levels, research suggests.
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