Cardiovascular disease risk is lowered by substituting healthy plant proteins for red meat. Studies have shown that swapping out red meat for plant-based proteins can reduce the risk of heart disease. The study was a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that looked at swapping out red meat for other types of food.
Lead author of the study Marta Guasch-Ferré explained, “Previous findings from randomized 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 favorable changes in cardiovascular risk factors.”
The study included 36 randomized trials that contain around 1,803 participants. The researchers compared people who ate red meat with people who ate other types of foods including poultry, carbohydrates, and plant-based proteins. The researchers looked at blood concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoproteins, and blood pressure, which are all heart disease risk factors.
Red meat diets lead to higher triglyceride levels in comparison to other diets. There weren’t many differences in cholesterol and blood pressure between the different diets. On the other hand, diets with higher plant-based proteins had lower cholesterol levels.
Based on the current findings and the long-lasting and mounting research on red meat and other types of diets, the researchers suggest adhering to a vegetarian or Mediterranean style diet for optimal health benefits and for the biggest reduction in heart disease.