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By: Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Diabetes affects about 25 million Americans, and is a cause of heart disease and stroke.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on new research that shows the amount of red meat you eat could increase or decrease your risk of developing diabetes.

Sherry Batrus is trying to be healthy, especially when it comes to food.

“I grew up with fried foods, carb city, tons of sugar.  I mean if it was up to me I could eat Krispy Kreme every day,” said Sherry.  A year ago she cut out red meat and went on a Mediterranean diet.

“I eat chick peas, lentils, beans, all that stuff. Lots of salads,” said Sherry.

Eating less meat may have also reduced her chances of getting diabetes.  A new Harvard study followed nearly 100,000 people for over four years.  Those who added a half serving of red meat a day increased their diabetes risk nearly 50 percent.  People who ate half a serving less, reduced their risk of diabetes by 14 percent.

“If we can say to patients, get the saturated fats get the meat out of your diets, and you’re going to prevent diabetes, that’s hugely empowering,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist.

Sherri lost 20 pounds and lowered her cholesterol.  She says she doesn’t miss the meat.

“I just feel better.  I feel healthier.  I feel lighter,” said Sherry.

The study found the increased risk for diabetes was even greater with processed red meat like hot dogs, sausage and salami.  Researchers say they didn’t analyze why red meat caused diabetes, but it is fattening, and obesity is a primary cause of type 2 diabetes.

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