A large meta-analysis compiling different studies concludes that replacing red meat with healthy plant proteins such as legumes or nuts would greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
High cholesterol, risk of cardiovascular disease, heart failure or kidney problems ... For several years, researchers have agreed to warn against excessive consumption of red meat.
Many studies have pointed out its negative effects on health, especially cardiovascular health. But are there healthier alternatives to a rib eye, a steak or a prime rib? Yes, says a new study published in the journal circulation : vegetable proteins. Led by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Purdue University, it shows that replacing red meat with high quality protein sources lowers cardiovascular risk.
Higher rates of "bad" cholesterol
To reach this conclusion, the researchers conducted an analysis of data from 36 randomized studies involving 1,803 individuals. The researchers compared people who ate red meat to those who ate more of other protein sources such as chicken, fish, starchy foods, or vegetable proteins such as legumes, soy, or nuts. In particular, they examined the blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoproteins, and blood pressure, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The results revealed that when red meat diets were compared to all other types of diets combined, there were no significant differences in total cholesterol, lipoproteins or blood pressure. However, diets rich in red meat have resulted in higher triglyceride levels than other diets.
Researchers also found that diets rich in "healthy" vegetable protein resulted in lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol compared to red meat diets.
Choose your vegetable proteins
According to the authors of the study, these results clearly show that cardiovascular risks are lower for people who prefer vegetable proteins and limit their consumption of red meat. They specify, however, that further studies are needed to confirm their conclusions.
Should we conclude that red meat is bad for our health and that vegetable protein is still a healthy alternative? Absolutely not, insist the authors of the study. "To wonder if red meat is good or bad is useless," says Meir Stampfer, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and lead author of the study. If you replace burgers with cookies or French fries, you will not be healthier, but if you replace red meat with healthy sources of vegetable protein, such as nuts and beans, you will get a health benefit. "
It is therefore better to favor diets low in red meat, but especially rich in legumes, cereals and nuts as the Mediterranean diet which, in addition to having proven its health benefits, is also better for the environment.