Red meat in the diabetic diet

Black-and-white cowFurther to our food feature in the June issue, where we reported on including red meat in the diabetic diet, mainly in order to address Vitamin D deficiency in the UK, the Meat Advisory Panel has made comments regarding recent research around saturated fatty acids and diabetes in response to a study published in the Lancet and Diabetes & Endocrinology Journal[1]. This reported that some saturated fatty acids could protect against diabetes, but that saturated fatty acids found in red meat could have a negative association.

Dr Emma Derbyshire from the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) comments: “This research concluded that certain types of saturated fat could protect against diabetes, namely depending on whether the number of carbon atoms contained within the saturated fatty acid molecule were odd or even. Claims that the kind of saturated fatty acids found in red meat could contribute to diabetes risk are unjustified. Red meat is a source of high quality protein and essential nutrients that can help to improve overall diet quality. Lean red meat, on average, contains more unsaturated then saturated fat and when eaten as part of a healthy diet, is unlikely to affect blood saturated fatty acid levels. Furthermore, looking at levels of fatty acids in the blood is also very different to looking at levels from foods.  While associations could possibly be made between one dominant fatty acid present in the bloodstream and a disease outcome, it is difficult to relate this back to specific foods in the diet. On a final note, more work is needed to identify underpinning mechanisms in terms of ‘how’ the number of fatty acids molecules may lead to these predicted effects.  Until this has been deciphered the recommendation to revise dietary guidelines comes a bit too early.”

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