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A recent study has shown that replacing red meat with a plant-based protein source can decrease heart disease risk by 14%. Here's what you should know!
Red meat and processed red meat can increase the risk of major heart disease and chronic diseases. We kind of knew that, but this new study has proven it. Researchers based their findings on observing 43,272 U.S. men with an average age of 53. The study showed that replacing red meat with high-quality plant-based proteins could increase the chances of having a healthy heart.
“There have been a lot of studies that have gone away from the red meat diet, focusing more on a plant-based diet,” said Dr. Anjali Dutta, a cardiologist with New York-Presbyterian Medical Group Queens.
“There has been an emphasis on a Mediterranean diet, which is a high emphasis on nuts, less on carbohydrates,” she said. “This study was really great in showing the benefits of… a plant-based diet and the cardiac effects and risk reduction."
There have been many studies on this matter before, but the most recent one provides a new approach. “While much research exists on this topic, this paper sets out to examine other significant factors such as the amount of red meat consumed and whether the meat is processed,” said Nicole Roach, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
The observation was carried for 30 years, as it began in 1986, and participants filled in a detailed diet questionnaire every 4 years thereafter. Over the 30-year period, 4,456 CHD events were documented, and 1,860 of those were fatal.
The study concluded that for everyone serving a day, total red meat was associated with a 12% higher risk of CHD. An 11 percent higher risk was seen for unprocessed meat, and processed red meat presented a 15 percent higher risk. On the other hand, one serving of combined plant-based proteins a day was associated with a 14% lower CDH risk.
“The intake of high-quality plant-based proteins such as nuts, legumes, as well as whole grains and dairy products, showed an additional decreased risk for heart disease,” Roach said. “Plant-based options also increase the intake of unsaturated fat, fiber, antioxidants, polyphenols — all of which can benefit heart health by either increasing protective cholesterol, reducing bad cholesterol, or improving the function of the heart’s blood vessels,” she adds.
This doesn't mean you can't have red meat ever again, of course. “A little bit of red meat now and then is OK,” Dutta said. “A few times a week is fine, and mixing up vegetables and grains to have a more balanced diet is really what the benefit is.”
The key? Moderation. Try to include more plant-based proteins in your diet and with that simple change, you will be doing a lot for your heart!