Food for thought (excuse the pun)
Americans' meat-heavy diets may be partly to blame for skyrocketing rates of type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health studied the nutritional habits of more than 400,000 people and found that a daily serving of processed meat--one hot dog or two slices of bacon--increases the risk of developing diabetes by 51 percent. Unprocessed red meat, such as steak or hamburgers, is less damaging, but still causes a nearly 20 percent spike in diabetes risk.
"There's no question that consumption of red meat is too high," study author Frank Hu tells Scientific American. The average American eats more than 100 pounds of red meat per year, and more than 2.5 million adults have diabetes.
Researchers think that high levels of sodium and preservatives in processed products and a type of iron found in red meat may damage cells that help regulate blood sugar. The good news: By replacing a daily serving of meat with low-fat dairy or nuts, the study found, people can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes.
--quoted in "The Week" magazine