A new study based on 30 years of observation has found that replacing red meat with high-quality plant foods such as beans and nuts may be associated with a significantly reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
The study, which was published by the BMJ, focused on 23,272 men in the US, with the average age being 53. None of these men had cardiovascular disease or cancer when the observation began in 1986. Since then, participants have filled in a detailed diet questionnaire every 4 years thereafter.
The researchers found that for every one serving per day, total red meat was associated with a 12 percent increased risk of CHD. Meanwhile, the intake of one serving per day of combined plant protein sources, which include nuts, legumes, and soy, was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of CHD. Simply put, swapping red meat with plant-based protein sources can help spare you from heart disease.
“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,” said Nicole Roach, a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Although the research focused on men, the scientists say the findings will hold true for women as well.