Here’s good news for people who love nuts and Greek yogurt! Replacing even one serving of red meat with these tasty foods can substantially lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health.
The study examined the overall effects of eating processed and red meat. As might be expected, those effects weren’t positive. A single daily serving of red meat — that would be a piece of steak about the size of a deck of playing cards — upped type 2 diabetes risk by 19 percent.
Processed meat was even worse. Eating only 50 grams of processed meat per day — half of that deck of playing cards — increased the chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 51 percent.
But the researchers didn’t stop there. They decided to test what would happen if one of those unhealthy servings were replaced by a healthy option. That’s where the nuts and yogurt came in. The scientists found (using mathematical models) that the simple substitution yielded impressive results.
Substituting the processed and red meat with nuts reduced type 2 risk by 21 percent. Greek yogurt reduced it by 17 percent. Whole grains cut the risk by 23 percent. Other kinds of meat — poultry and fish, for example — also reduced disease risk.
“It’s a very important message, given that diabetes is rising very rapidly, and consumption of red meat, including both processed and unprocessed, is very high,” said Dr. Frank Hu, a Harvard professor and one of the study’s authors, in The New York Times. “We’re talking about switching from a meat-centered diet to a more plant-based diet for the prevention of diabetes and other chronic diseases.”
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at 300,000 people ranging in age from 25 to 75. The subjects had reported details about their diet and lifestyles every two years, starting in 1976.