Replacing meat with plant-based foods could improve blood cholesterol health

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Scientists from the University of Warwick found that replacing meat with plant-based foods could improve blood cholesterol health.

Climate change is an urgent and pressing issue that poses significant threats to human health, well-being, and development.

Scientists have identified various causes of climate change, including human activities such as the production and consumption of meat.

Livestock farming is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, land degradation, water pollution, and other environmental problems.

Thus, reducing meat consumption is an important step toward mitigating the negative effects of climate change and promoting a sustainable future.

One way to decrease meat intake is by replacing it with plant-based or mycoprotein-based substitutes. These substitutes mimic the taste and texture of meat without using animal products.

However, their impact on human health is still unclear. Some people worry that consuming these substitutes might have adverse effects on nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular health.

To address these concerns, a team of researchers conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the short-term effects of meat substitutes on various cardiometabolic biomarkers.

They searched databases for controlled clinical trials that involved meat substitute interventions and measured cardiometabolic outcomes such as total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, and weight.

The researchers identified 12 studies that met their inclusion criteria and pooled the results using a random effects model.

They found that consuming meat substitutes was associated with lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Total cholesterol is the sum of LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol, and high levels of LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Thus, lowering these biomarkers is a positive outcome for heart health.

The researchers also observed slight reductions in blood sugar and blood pressure, but these effects were not statistically significant.

Additionally, they found that people who consumed meat substitutes did not gain or lose much weight compared to those who ate meat.

They did have slightly higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol) and blood pressure, but again, these differences were not significant.

Overall, the researchers concluded that replacing some or all meat with plant-based or mycoprotein-based substitutes may lower total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides.

However, they caution that the evidence is moderate for some outcomes (total cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol) and low to very low for others (LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure, and weight).

They also noted that some heterogeneity and publication bias existed in the studies, which could affect the validity of the findings.

In conclusion, this study provides some evidence that meat substitutes might have positive effects on certain cardiometabolic biomarkers in the short term.

However, more research is needed to determine the long-term health effects of consuming these substitutes.

Nonetheless, reducing meat consumption and incorporating plant-based or mycoprotein-based substitutes into our diets can have significant environmental benefits, which in turn can positively impact human health and well-being.

The research was published in Diabetics and was conducted by Joshua Gibbs et al.

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