While red meat is a great source of protein that can be part of a balanced diet, a new study claims that replacing red meat with high quality plant foods is linked to reducing the risk of heart disease.
The study, published in The British Medical Journal, found that high quality plant food such as beans, nuts, or soy can help promote heart health, while substituting red meat for whole grains and dairy products, and replacing processed red meat for eggs, could also reduce the risk, according to a press release.
“These findings are consistent with the effects of these foods on low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and support a health benefit of limiting red meat consumption and replacement with plant protein sources,” researchers said in a press release.
Researchers compiled data from more than 43,000 men in the US from a study conducted by the Health Professionals. Participants in the study were asked to detail their diet history since 1986 in a questionnaire, where they were asked to follow up every four years until 2016.
Additionally, researchers asked participants for their medical history and lifestyle. Medical records were also used during this time, with 1,860 participants dying during the period.
This is where researchers found the link between red meat and the increase in coronary heart disease. For every one serving of total red meat each day, participants had a 12% greater risk of heart disease, while an 11% higher risk in unprocessed and 15% in processed red meat.
But when red meat was compared to plant protein sources, like nuts, legumes, and soy, participants had a 14% lower risk of CHD. In men over the age of 65, the risk was also slightly less in plant protein sources when paired against red meat.
In younger participants, replacing red meat with egg lowered the risk of CHD by nearly a quarter, at 20%.
While researchers noted the study is observational, the length and size of the study could prove worthy. It’s not the first time there’s been an advisory against red meat. A study published by BMJ last year found that a half of serving of processed red meat per day was linked to a 13% higher risk of dying young from any cause, while eating unprocessed red meat increased the risk by 9%. That study said to avoid processed meats like bacon, salami, and hots dogs, while focusing on more poultry, fish, or again plant-based proteins.
If you’re looking to switch to more plant-based proteins, here’s a list of some tasty options recommended by health specialist Kate Barrington:
- Almond Butter (8g per serving)
- Amaranth (9g per cup)
- Black Beans (15g per cup)
- Buckwheat (6 per cup)
- Chia Seeds (4.5g per ounce)
- Chickpeas (14.5g per cup)
- Green Peas (9g per serving)
- Hemp Seeds (9g per serving)
- Kale (2g per cup)
- Kidney Beans (8g per cup)
- Lentils (18g per cup)
- Nutritional Yeast (9g per serving)
- Oatmeal (14g per cup)
- Pumpkin Seeds (12g per cup)
- Quinoa (8g per serving)
- Spirulina (39g per serving)