Wednesday, January 03, 2018 by Earl Garcia
The World Health Organization reported that cardiovascular disease remains to be the number one cause of death worldwide, claiming 17.7 million or about 31 percent of the global population in 2015 alone. However, an analysis published in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that making even the slightest change in dietary habits may help stave off the condition.
According to the researchers, swapping animal fats with plant-based protein may mitigate the risk of cardiovascular disease. The scientists assessed up to 112 published trials about the food swapping technique as part of the analysis. The researchers then observed its effects on three markers for cholesterol, which included low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol, non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol or good cholesterol and apolipoprotein B, a protein present in bad cholesterol that clog arteries.
The scientists found that substituting one to two servings of meat or dairy with plant-based proteins may slash the risk of heart attack by up to five percent. The health experts added that the effects could be significantly increased by combining plant proteins with other cholesterol-lowering, high-fiber foods.
“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. 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,” lead researcher Dr. John Sievenpiper told Daily Mail online.
Another recent research demonstrated that following a plant-based diet may provide utmost benefits for the heart. One study conducted by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York revealed that people who replaced processed meats and fatty foods with a mostly plant-based diet had a 42 percent reduced risk of developing cardiovascular conditions like heart failure. Another study showed that substituting dairy products with soy-based products slashed cancer risk by 44 percent in women and 40 percent in men. (Related: Doctors recommend plant-based diets for better health.)
However, some experts expressed concerns of protein and calcium deficiencies for patients who follow a plant-based diet.
“The problem is that milk and dairy products are an important source of several key nutrients. Cutting out on the foods reduces the intake of calcium and iodine – raising the risk of deficiencies. Dairy products are also a useful source of iodine – a micronutrient important for women during pregnancy and young children that contributes to growth and brain development. Our bones continue to grow until we reach our mid thirty and during this time it’s important to make sure diets contain enough calcium,” cautioned Rob Hobson, a London-based nutritionist.
Plant-based diets need not be worrisome for those looking to pack on healthy proteins. Entries published on Livestrong.com and the Health Line website list a number of plant foods rich in essential nutrients such as protein and calcium. These foods include:
Explore more stories on the science of food at FoodScience.news.