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Study finds replacing red meat with plants could prevent heart disease

Monday 15th April 2019
Diets that involve replacing red meat with healthy plant proteins have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a new study.
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Research is increasingly turning against the idea of red meat as the basis for a diet, especially when it comes to heart health. This has been shored up by new research from the  Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Purdue University, which has found that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study, published in the journal ‘Circulation’, took data from a total of 36 randomised controlled trials that compared diets featuring a lot of red meat with those with another ingredient as the main protein source, including chicken, fish, soy, nuts or legumes. In all cases, participants were tested for the risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

These include the concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoproteins in participants’ bloodstreams, as well as their blood pressure. Overall, the study did not find any significant difference between diets when it came to lipoproteins, blood pressure or the participants’ overall cholesterol level.

However, diets containing a lot of red meat tended to lead to higher concentrations of triglycerides in the blood when compared to most other proteins. While total cholesterol didn’t change, diets containing larger amounts of plant-based proteins led to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol.

As a result, the authors of the study have recommended people follow either healthy vegetarian or Mediterranean diets to increase their heart health. However, it was emphasised that red meat is not the least healthy option, and replacing it with junk food will lead to poor heart health, even if it is completely vegetarian.

Marta Guasch-Ferré, research scientist and lead author of the study, said: “Previous findings from randomised controlled trials evaluating the effects of red meat on cardiovascular disease risk factors have been inconsistent.

“But our new study, which makes specific comparisons between diets high in red meat versus diets high in other types of foods, shows that substituting red meat with high-quality protein sources lead to more favourable changes in cardiovascular risk factors.”

Photo by Anna Pelzer on UnsplashADNFCR-1780-ID-801850039-ADNFCR

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