Eating some cuts of poultry and red meat can increase the risk of people developing type two diabetes, according to new research by the Singapore-based Duke-NUS Medical School.
The study involved recruiting 63,257 adults between the ages of 45 and 74 and following their eating habits for an average of 11 years.
It found a positive association between intakes of red meat and poultry and the risk of developing diabetes, with those eating the most poultry having a 15% increase risk of diabetes compared to those in the lowest quartile.
This led the scientists to investigate the association between dietary heme iron content from all meats and the risk of diabetes.
Once adjusting for heme iron content the association between poultry intake and diabetes research became null, suggesting this risk was attributable to heme iron. Heme iron is the type of iron that comes from animal proteins.
While the findings of one of the largest Asian studies looking at meat consumption and diabetes is consistent with other studies, it also suggested that chicken parts with lower heme iron contents, such as breast meat, compared to thighs, could be healthier.
Senior study author Professor Koh Woon Puay said: “We don’t need to remove meat from the diet entirely. Singaporeans just need to reduce their daily intake, especially for red meat, and choose chicken breast and fish/shellfish, or plant-based protein food and dairy products, to reduce the risk of diabetes.
The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.