Processed foods linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes

Need another reason to cut back on red and processed meats? A new study suggests that a common additive called nitrite in these foods is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

For the study, researchers looked at the dietary habits of more than 104,000 adults who were on average 43 years old and had no history of type 2 diabetes. Based on detailed dietary records, the scientists calculated how much people were exposed to nitrates and nitrites, chemicals that occur naturally in whole foods such as green leafy vegetables, and in additives used to improve the flavor and shelf life of processed meats and other mass-produced foods. .

Participants were followed up for about seven years and nearly 1,000 of them developed type 2 diabetes.

People with the most nitrites in their diets from food additives were 53 percent more likely to get a type 2 diabetes diagnosis than participants whose diets contained the smallest amounts of meat and processed foods, researchers they reported on January 17 at PLoS medicine. Exposure to naturally occurring nitrites in leafy green vegetables and other whole foods was also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, but the effect was much smaller.

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