The world is already aware of the benefits of a vegan diet and plant-based meat. Red meat consumption is not only harmful to the environment but also for human health. Meanwhile, a recent study showed that plant-based alternatives can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
The findings of the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The researchers conducted this study at Stanford Medicine. According to the scientists, even though many people believe that plant-based meat is healthier than traditional red meat, it is not entirely true. Some plant-based products consist of a proportion of processed food. It also contains a high amount of sodium and saturated fats. These products increase cardiovascular disease risk for the consumer.
Christopher Gardner, Ph.D. is a professor of medicine and works at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. Gardner is also a senior author of this research paper. He said that the constituents of plant-based meat are not actual vegetables which makes this diet equally harmful for health. The food isolates present in such products increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Gardner also said that some people opposed the new alternatives to traditional red meat. The study showed if the plant-based meat was still healthy after it contained loads of processed food and high sodium content. Many products also contain coconut oil which increases the content of saturated fats in such products.
The study consisted of 30 participants divided into two groups. One group had traditional red meat for diet while the other group had plant-based meat for 8 weeks. Later, the researchers determined the concentration of trimethylamine N-oxide in the body. TMAO is a molecule found to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The findings of the study showed that the level of the molecule TMAO decreased in the participants who took plant-based meat. Gardner said that even though the plant-based meat consists of high levels of processed foods, it is still a healthier alternative to red meat. However, the link between TMAO and risk of cardiovascular disease is not proven yet.
Plant-based meat has other health benefits as well apart from a decreased level of TMAO. The study showed that the participants who took this diet reduced their weight on an average of 2 pounds. These participants also dropped the LDL cholesterol level. These factors contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, during the plant-based diet, both the cholesterol level and weight of the participants significantly reduced.
The initial plan of the study was not focused on the weight loss among the participants. However, it was a surprising finding for the researchers as the participants lost a significant amount of weight.
The researchers also said that the quality of processed food plays a huge role in the health of the consumer. Even though the plant-based meat contained a high amount of saturated fats, it was still healthier than red meat.
The study showed that plant-based meat reduced cardiovascular disease risk through multiple factors. It is not only a healthier alternative but also helps in the reduction of cholesterol level and overall weight of the consumer.