Replacing just one or two servings of animal protein per day with a high-quality plant-based protein could help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, says a new study out of St. Michael’s Hospital, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Diet, Digestive Tract, and Disease Centre.
The meta-analysis review, led by Dr. John Sievenpiper, was published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
According to Dr. Sievenpiper, just replacing a few servings of animal proteins with plant proteins every day could reduce cholesterol markers by five percent.
“That may not sound like much, but because people in North America eat very little plant protein, there is a real opportunity here to make some small changes to our diets and realize the health benefits,” Dr. Sievenpiper said of the research.
Previous studies have linked certain foods to reduced cholesterol levels, but this is the first to note the benefits of swapping animal protein for plant-based protein. While most of the study relied on soy protein, Dr. Sievenpiper says he recommends soy, nuts and beans as healthy swaps as well.
“We are seeing a major interest in plant-based diets from Mediterranean to vegetarian diets in the supermarket and the clinic, and this comprehensive analysis of the highest level of evidence from randomized trials provides us with more confidence that these diets are heart healthy.”
The plant-based diet is being widely embraced by Millennials and Generation Z; it topped Whole Foods Market food trend predictions for 2018. But it’s appropriate at “all stage of the life cycle”, according to the largest group of nutritionists.