Replacing red meat with plant foods could help reduce heart disease risk

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In a study from Harvard University, scientists found that replacing red meat with high-quality plant foods such as beans, nuts, or soy is linked to a modestly reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Coronary heart disease is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart.

It is caused by plaque buildup in the wall of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries).

Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time.

Coronary heart disease can lead to chest pain (angina), ischaemic heart disease, or heart attacks.

It is possible to prevent coronary heart disease by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and, for some people taking medications.

Red meat is a good source of certain nutrients, especially vitamin B-12 and iron. The human body needs these nutrients to produce new red blood cells.

But some research has linked regular consumption of red meat to a number of health problems, such as some cancers, kidney problems, digestive issues, and death.

Previous studies also have found that eating a plant-based diet improves the health of your gut so you are better able to absorb the nutrients from the food that support your immune system and reduce inflammation.

Fiber can lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar and it’s great for good bowel management.

In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the link between the intake of processed and unprocessed red meat and the risk of heart disease.

They also wanted to estimate the effects of substituting other protein sources for red meat on heart disease risk.

The team used data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, United States, 1986-2016, which included more than 43,000 men without heart disease or cancer at the beginning of the study.

The researchers examined the incidences of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and coronary heart disease.

During the follow-up period, there were 4456 people reporting heart disease events, of which 1860 were fatal.

The team found unprocessed and processed red meat intake were each linked to a higher risk of heart disease.

Compared with red meat, the intake of one serving per day of combined plant protein sources (nuts, legumes, and soy) was linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

Substitutions of whole grains and dairy products for red meat and eggs for processed red meat were also linked to lower CHD risk.

Based on these findings, researchers suggest that substituting high-quality plant foods such as legumes, nuts, or soy for red meat might reduce the risk of heart disease.

In addition, substituting whole grains and dairy products for red meat, and eggs for processed red meat might also reduce this risk.

The study was conducted by Laila Al-Shaar et al and published in The BMJ.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and calcium supplements could harm your heart health.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that blackcurrants can reduce blood sugar after meals and results showing Vitamin K2 could help reduce heart disease risk.

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