97% of people with diabetes have abnormal cholesterol levels. Diabetics tends to have high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
In addition, the particle size of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) in diabetics tends to be smaller: small and dense LDL particles are like tiny pellets floating around your arteries. They puncture the wall of the artery, triggering an immune response from your body, which causes the artery to narrow.
Diabetics also have higher blood pressure: blood pressure is one of the top 3 risk factors for heart disease.
As a result, of all people, diabetics carry the highest risk of heart disease.
So what happens when you take a group of diabetics and replace their red meat with soy or with legumes (beans)? Would their risk of heart disease drop?
This is what a recent study aimed to answer.
They took 75 diabetics aged between 40 and 65 and split them into 3 groups:
Group 1: 6 servings of red meat per week.
Group 2: replaced all red meat with soy-based meals.
Group 3: replaced all red meat with legume-based meals.
(all other meals were exactly the same for all groups).
And then they monitored their biomarkers for a period of 2 months (more than enough to observe changes in blood levels of common biomarkers which respond to dietary changes).
This is what they observed:
There were NO significant differences among the 3 groups in: fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and Framingham Risk Score (risk of heart disease);
Group 1 (red meat group) saw a DROP in blood pressure compared to Groups 2 and 3.
These findings are fully in agreement with all the major intervention studies published in recent years.
Intervention studies are the only studies we should rely upon: they take groups of people, change their diets, and then test the outcome.
All the major studies which have shown that red meat “causes heart disease” have 2 common problems:
They’re “old”: most studies date back to the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.
They were “observational”: they just noticed that people who have less heart disease tend to eat less red meat. But these studies are flawed because of something called: “confounding factors”: people who are healthy tend to exercise more, be more relaxed and happy, eat more anti-inflammatory foods (vegetables), eat less fried foods, and perhaps eat a bit less meat. So ALL of these factors lead them to be healthier, NOT avoiding red meat.
Note: processed meats are a different story. “Intervention” studies have actually demonstrated that "processed meats” (factory-made burgers, sausages, canned meat, etc) DO trigger inflammation in the body and DO increase risk of a variety of diseases.
Link to study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31207663