To lower heart disease risk, swap beef for beans

Research we're watching

Published: July, 2019

Eating healthy, plant-based proteins such as beans and nuts instead of red meat may lower your odds of heart disease, new research finds.

Researchers analyzed data from 36 trials that involved more than 1,800 people to see how different diets affect cholesterol, blood pressure, and other heart disease risk factors. When they compared diets with red meat to all other types of diets combined, there weren't any notable differences in cholesterol or blood pressure (although red-meat diets did lead to high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood).

But diets rich in high-quality plant protein sources, such as beans and nuts, resulted in lower levels of both total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol when compared with diets with red meat. In comparison to red meat, plant-based proteins contain no cholesterol, less saturated fat, and more unsaturated fat and fiber, as well as other heart-healthy nutrients. In addition to being high in unhealthy saturated fat, red meat also contains iron and other substances associated with cardiovascular risk. The study appeared in the April 9 issue of Circulation.

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