Plant-based diets can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease in place of meat.

Plant-based diets can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease in place of meat.

German researchers discovered that replacing meat with plant-based alternatives may significantly lower the risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality after analyzing more than 30 studies. Research indicates that substituting 50 grams (1.88 ounces) of processed meat with plant-based foods on a daily basis reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25%. Processed meat substitution was linked to a 21% decreased risk of death from all causes. Red and processed meats, as well as other animal products, are staples of the Western diet. Scientists are concerned that this eating pattern depletes natural resources, causes adverse climate change, and fuels a host of noncommunicable illnesses. The argument for promoting plant-based dietary alternatives is becoming stronger in light of the negative effects the Western diet has on the environment and human health. Plant-based diets may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality, according to some studies. However, a systematic review and meta-analysis of the full cardiometabolic implications of replacing meat with plants have not yet been examined in research. Researchers from German institutions worked together to address this shortfall in a paper that examined the subject. The article containing their meta-analysis and systematic review was released in BMC Medicine.

Our results suggest that a move away from animal-based eg dairy, eggs, butter, poultry, and red and processed meat) to plant-based eg foods high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil) are positively correlated with both all-cause mortality and cardiometabolic health, according to the authors. The research team used Web of Science, Embase, and MEDLINE to conduct a thorough literature search. Studies that employed substitution analyses to replace animal-based food with plant-based food were among them. Health outcomes like cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality were also covered in the studies that were consulted. Additionally, the studies were prospective observational studies carried out among a general population of healthy individuals. Using the Risk of Bias in Non-Randomized Studies of Interventions tool, each study was subjected to an evaluation of potential bias. With the use of the Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations protocol, the team assessed the degree of evidence for each association. For the purpose of their final analyses, the research team reduced the number of studies they found from 1,216 to 32. A manual search produced five more studies, bringing the total number of meta-analyses to 37.

“It is the first systematic review and meta-analysis that summarized the associations between the substitution of plant-based foods with animal-based foods with a wide range of cardiometabolic outcomes, such as mortality from cardiovascular disease; incidence of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and type 2 diabetes; mortality from diabetes; and mortality from all causes,” state the authors of this work. The researchers found a “moderate certainty of evidence” linking a daily replacement of one egg with nuts to a decreased mortality rate from cardiovascular disease. Similar outcomes were obtained when olive oil was substituted for butter. Every day, replacing 50 grams (g) of processed meat with 28 grams of nuts was linked to a decreased incidence of coronary heart disease. Nuts or legumes were not a suitable substitute for chicken or seafood. The evidence supporting the hypothesis that substituting nuts or legumes for red meat lowers the risk of coronary heart disease was only weakly conclusive. The researchers also discovered an inverse relationship between the frequency of type 2 diabetes and replacing butter with olive oil, red meat with nuts, or one egg a day with nuts. Lastly, the researchers observed a moderate certainty of evidence for a decreased risk of death from all causes when substituting whole grains or nuts for red meat. This risk was also decreased by substituting nuts or legumes for processed meat or nuts for unprocessed red meat.

Each day, replacing dairy or one egg with nuts, legumes, butter, or olive oil was linked to a decreased risk of death from all causes. These results are consistent with a previous review that found consuming more plant-based foods instead of red meat reduced the risk of coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality. This study backs up other research linking increased meat intake to all-cause mortality, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke. This study represents the first of its kind meta-analysis. To gather dietary data, validated food frequency questionnaires were employed. Among the cohorts, the average follow-up period was 19 years. With a few exceptions based on gender, both males and females were included in the majority of the studies. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Eva De Angelis spoke with Medical News Today about this study. She did not participate in the study. “Quite a fascinating systematic review that further highlights the vital role that plant foods can have on our overall health, and how too many animal foods can have the opposite effect,” was how De Angelis described the investigation. The study’s use of numerous, varied prospective studies, which “provide a higher quality of evidence,” impressed her. The research team did, however, note a number of limitations with their investigation and emphasized that their “findings should be interpreted with caution.”.

Several of the examined studies made use of hypothetical food substitutions. Additionally, studies’ portion sizes varied, leading to unfair comparisons of dietary alternatives. Relative confounding and measurement errors were possible when using only prospective observational studies. Furthermore, subgroup analyses were not possible due to the small number of studies included in the final analysis. Dairy products, for example, were evaluated as a single group. The writers pointed out that a vast variety of distinct products (e.g. g. cheese, yogurt, and milk) that have varying correlations with cardiometabolic outcomes. De Angelis remarked, “Among the weaknesses, I would mention that many of the analyzed studies were observational, so the information only allows us to make associations, not causality. This implies that we cannot be certain what other factors may have contributed to the results. The review’s authors believed that additional studies were necessary to bolster the available data. They expressed hope that future research would highlight plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy while also examining new connections. Sara Chatfield, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, and  also spoke about this study. She did not participate in the study. Chatfield noted that because animal production uses so many resources and occupies so much land, switching to a more plant-based diet can have a positive impact on the environment.

Actually, the two nutritionists that spoke with concurred that increasing the amount of whole plant foods consumed can only benefit the planet and all of its inhabitants. According to studies cited by Chatfield, adopting a plant-based diet could cut land use related to diet by 76% and greenhouse gas emissions by 49%. The nutritionists issued a warning, though, saying that depending on a person’s health, preferences, and food accessibility, a completely plant-based diet might not be the best choice for them. However, De Angelis stressed that trying to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet can be a quick and easy step toward better health.


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