Swapping animal-based food such as red and processed meat with plant-based foods such as nuts or legumes may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and overall mortality, a new study has found.
The study published in the journal BMC Medicine analysed the results from 37 earlier studies, and its findings highlighted the potential health benefits of incorporating more plant-based meals into the diet.
“Our findings indicate that a shift from animal-based (e.g., red and processed meat, eggs, dairy, poultry, butter) to plant-based (e.g., nuts, legumes, whole grains, olive oil) foods are beneficially associated with cardiometabolic health and all-cause mortality,” the researchers reported.
The researchers performed a systematic literature search on MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science and included studies that used substitution analyses of animal-based food with plant-based foods.
They observed a “moderate certainty of evidence” that replacing one daily egg with nuts correlated with lower cardiovascular disease mortality. Substituting butter with olive oil yielded similar results.
Switching 50 grams of processed meat with 28 grams of nuts daily was related to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease. On the other hand, replacing poultry or seafood with nuts or legumes was not a good idea, the study found.
There was only low-confidence of evidence that replacing red meat with nuts or legumes lowered the risk of coronary heart disease.The researchers also discovered that replacing butter with olive oil, red meat with nuts, or one egg daily with nuts was inversely related to the frequency of type 2 diabetes.
Finally, the researchers discovered a moderate certainty of evidence supporting a decreased risk of all-cause mortality when substituting nuts or whole grains for red meat. This risk was also reduced by replacing processed meat with nuts or legumes, or unprocessed red meat with nuts, the study mentioned.
Substituting nuts or legumes for dairy or one egg daily, or butter for olive oil, was related to a decreased risk of all-cause mortality. According to the researchers, their work "is first systematic review and meta-analysis that summarised the associations between the substitution of animal-based with plant-based foods with a wide range of cardiometabolic outcomes, such as CVD mortality; incidence of CVD, CHD, and T2D; diabetes mortality, and all-cause mortality".