Before you barbecue this weekend, you might want to think about what you're throwing on the grill. According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, red meat consumption may lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Researchers tracked the food consumption of more than 100,000 men and women for 12 to 16 years, assessing participants' diets every four years. Those who upped their red meat intake by more than half a serving (1.5 ounces) a day raised their risk of type 2 diabetes by 48 percent. And the risk was higher for those who ate mostly processed meat (i.e. sausage, hot dogs, bologna) than those who ate unprocessed meat (i.e. cuts of beef, pork, lamb).
Before you toss out the ground sirloin, know that I am not convinced it was strictly the consumption of more red meat at play here, since there are so many other dietary and environmental factors that could have had a strong effect on the outcome of this study. Consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and sodium, as well as portion sizes and exercise could all have impacted the results of the study.
Lean beef is an excellent or good source of 10 essential nutrients, including zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, selenium, and iron, and grass-fed beef provides omega-3 fatty acids. So since there are some health benefits, for those patients who enjoy red meat, I tell them to stick with the lean cuts (i.e. sirloin, strip, round, skirt, or flank) instead of fatty (i.e. porterhouse, ribeye, roast beef, or chuck) or highly processed ones. I also encourage them to adhere to portion control, since calories can add up, filling only one-quarter of their plate with meat, another quarter with a 100-percent whole grains, and the remaining half with veggies.
The only caution I give is to not eat red meat daily—mainly because a well-balanced diet with variety is always the best option for health, especially with so many other great protein sources, such as chicken, turkey, fish, beans, tofu, low-fat dairy, eggs, and nuts, available.
Do you eat red meat? What's your favorite way to enjoy it? Tell us in the comments below or @Shape_Magazine.