These results will surely complicate traditional dietary thinking, but a new French study suggests that women who consume high amounts of meat, fish, eggs and other foods rich in different types of fatty acids may face a greater risk for type 2 diabetes.
“The principal sources of the harmful fatty acids in our study were meat and fish/seafood,” said study authors Guy Fagherazzi and Courtney Dow, both epidemiologists with the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at INSERM in Villejuif, France.
The study’s findings are at odds with what has long been overwhelming praise about the health benefits associated with this group of essential nutrients, which includes the omega-3 polyunsaturated acids typically found in fish.
“However, we would not go so far as to say that fish is no longer a healthy and safe option,” the study authors said. “Other studies are needed, and it was only in the group with the highest consumption of these fatty acids that we observed an association.”
For the study, more than 71,000 non-diabetic women were tracked between 1993 and 2011.
Researchers said people should cut back on meat intake as currently most of the population consumes meat in quantities well beyond their nutritional requirements.
One nutritionist described the findings as “somewhat surprising.”
“Particularly the association with omega-3s and increased risk,” said Lona Sandon, program director in the department of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. “This I would not expect.”
Sandon said that there “are a lot of unknowns here,” adding that she “would not throw my walnuts and tuna out just yet,” until more research can be done.
“There is oodles of evidence for why those things are good for us,” Sandon said. “But if I were a big meat eater, I would cut back.”