Red Meat Linked With Diabetes, But Don’t Throw Out the Grill Yet

sausageHey, how was your summer? Eat a lot of grilled steak? Well maybe I shouldn't mention... oh what the hell. Did you know that red meat has been linked to Type 2 diabetes? Well, it's been linked to a higher risk for diabetes. In a study of 150,000 volunteers, people tracked how much red meat they ate. The people who added half a serving or more red meat per day to their diets showed a 48 percent greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

So that doesn't sound good. But the closer you look at the study, the less dramatic the results sound. Is this just another case of meat bashing?


First of all, people were more at risk for diabetes; they didn't necessarily develop diabetes. It's still cause for concern, but that makes a difference. Apparently the kind of red meat matters, too: The risk for diabetes was higher if people were eating more fatty cuts than lean cuts. But what about processed meats, like sausage, hot dogs, and cold cuts? That's some of the cheapest kind of red meat, and it's waaay more unhealthy than fresh. It's typically loaded with sodium and often sugar and other additives. The study doesn't distinguish between that and fresh meat, so we don't know.

I'm not saying we should eat lots and lots of red meat all the time. I just think red meat gets such a bad rap, and it doesn't necessarily deserve it all. (Sugar, on the other hand...) Not all meat is the same. There's junk meat, and then there's, for example, pasture-raised meat, which is lower in the harmful fats and higher in healthier fats. I think every study on the health of meat should specify -- processed or fresh? Grassfed or industrial? It really does make a difference.

But whatever. Red meat probably doesn't need me to defend it. The truth is, we still eat way more of it than we need to. When I read that some of the people in the study increased their consumption by half a serving or more a day my jaw dropped. Are there seriously people out there eating red meat every day? Jeebus! I eat red meat once or twice a week.

How about this? Instead of talking about how dangerous red meat is, let's talk about all the other, good-for-you foods you're not eating because you're too full from all that meat. I consider meat more of a lost vegetable opportunity.

Do you think you eat too much meat?


Image via Stefano A./Flickr

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