Red meat, dietary heme iron, and risk of type 2 diabetes: the involvement of advanced lipoxidation endproducts

Adv Nutr. 2013 Jul 1;4(4):403-11. doi: 10.3945/an.113.003681.


There is growing evidence of disordered iron homeostasis in the diabetic condition, with links proposed between dietary iron intakes and both the risk of disease and the risk of complications of advanced disease. In the United States, Britain, and Canada, the largest dietary contributors of iron are cereals and cereal products and meat and meat products. This review discusses the findings of cohort studies and meta-analyses of heme iron and red meat intakes and the risk of type 2 diabetes. These suggest that processed red meat is associated with increased risk, with high intakes of red meat possibly also associated with a small increased risk. Historically, humans have relied on large quantities of heme iron and red meat in their diets, and therefore it is paradoxical that iron from meat sources should be associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes. A reason for this association may be drawn from studies of dietary advanced glycation and lipoxidation endproducts present in processed food and the mechanisms by which insulin output by pancreatic islet cells might be influenced by the protein modifications present in processed red meat.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Food Handling
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / adverse effects*
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / analysis
  • Heme / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Iron, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Lipid Peroxidation*
  • Male
  • Meat / adverse effects*
  • Meat / analysis
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Risk Factors


  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Heme
  • Ferritins