Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke risk higher in meat consumers

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By David Liu, PHD

Friday Feb 8, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A review published in Current Diabetes Reports suggests meat consumption may cause type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.

E.J. Feskens from Wageningen University in Wageningen, The Netherlands and colleagues reviewed studies and found the risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke higher in meat consumers.

The review was conducted to examine the evidence on the association between meat consumption and risks of diabetes including type 1 and type 2 and their macro and microvascular complications.

Some studies, but not all have reported increased risk for type 1 diabetes among meat consumers or those with high intake of saturated fat, nitrates and nitrites.

The association between type 2 diabetes. coronary heart disease and stroke and meat consumption was strongest.   Specifically, eating 100 grams per day of total meat, red meat, or poultry was associated with a 15%, 13%. or 4% increased risk respectively.   Eating 100 grams per day of processed meat associated with 32% increased risk of these diseases/events.

And  both processed meats and fresh meat were linked to moderately increased risk for stroke while red and processed meats were strongly associated with type 2 diabetes risk.
Up to now, few studies. according to the reviewers, have been conducted to associate the microvascular complications of diabetes with meat consumption, but elevated risks are expected.

Many components in meat may affect the risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.  They include "saturated and trans fatty acids, dietary cholesterol, protein and amino acids, heme-iron, sodium, nitrites and nitrosamines, and advanced glycation end products." 

The reviewers suggest that "a diet moderate to low in red meat, unprocessed and lean, and prepared at moderate temperatures is probably the best choice from the public health point of view."

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