Eat your steak rare
People who eat lots of processed and red meat are at increased risk of developing chronic liver disease and insulin resistance, a diabetes risk factor – especially if they like their steak well done, an Israeli study suggests.
Researchers focused on what’s known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is associated with obesity and certain eating habits. While red and processed meat has long been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease, evidence to date has been mixed about its connection to liver disease.
The study team examined data on 789 adults who completed questionnaires about their eating and cooking habits and underwent liver ultrasound scans and lab tests for insulin resistance.
Overall, 39% of the participants were found to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and 31% had insulin resistance, which happens when the body is less effective at using the hormone insulin to convert sugars in the blood into energy for cells to use.
People who ate more processed and red meat were 47% more likely to have liver disease and 55% more likely to have insulin resistance, researchers report in the Journal of Hepatology.
“Evidence is mounting with regard to the harmful effect of overconsumption of red and processed meat,” said lead study author Shira Zelber-Sagi, a nutrition researcher at the University of Haifa.
Cooking meat at high temperatures for longer periods of time until it’s “well done” was associated with a higher risk of liver disease and insulin resistance than eating meat more “rare” or cooked more briefly, the study also found.