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Plant-based swaps could reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease, major study finds | Health

Nature

Replacing meat and dairy with whole grains, beans, nuts and olive oil could significantly reduce cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, a major study on the impact of diet suggests about health.

German researchers analyzed 37 published studies to assess the benefits of switching from red and processed meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy to plant-based foods such as beans, nuts, grains whole grains, oils, fruits and vegetables.

They found a marked reduction in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes as well as a lower risk of dying from any cause during the periods covered by the studies, particularly when red and processed meats were replaced by plant-based foods.

“This evidence highlights the potential benefits of switching from animal-based diets, including red and processed meat, eggs, dairy, poultry and butter, to plant-based foods like nuts, legumes, whole grains and olive oil,” said Dr. Sabrina Schlesinger. , lead author of the study conducted at the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf.

The risk of cardiovascular disease was about 25% lower when 50g of processed meat per day was replaced with nuts or legumes. Meanwhile, replacing one egg per day with 25g of nuts was associated with a 17% reduction in risk. But there was no clear evidence that replacing poultry or fish with nuts or legumes reduced cardiovascular disease.

Similar benefits were observed for type 2 diabetes and for all causes of death recorded by the studies analyzed. The authors calculated a reduction in type 2 diabetes of approximately 20% when 50 g of processed meat per day was replaced by up to 28 g of nuts, or when a daily egg was replaced by 30 g of whole grains or 10 g of nuts.

Replacing processed meat, which was often red meat in the form of ham, bacon, sausages or hot dogs, was associated with the most obvious health benefits. According to the BMC Medicine study, replacing 50 g of processed meat per day with 28 to 50 g of nuts was associated with a 21% reduced risk of death from any cause in the studies evaluated.

Research does not examine the reasons for the observed health benefits, but meat is often high in saturated fatty acids which are thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Processed meat may also contain high levels of sodium , nitrates and nitrites. Plant foods, on the other hand, are rich in essential nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that reduce inflammation.

Professor Nita Forouhi, an expert in nutrition, diabetes and obesity at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, said the study’s most compelling results were for replacing processed and unprocessed red meat. transformed by plant-based foods.

One drawback is that the study does not distinguish between different types of dairy products. According to Forouhi, there is some evidence that fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, are healthier. The study also did not examine the benefits of replacing red and processed meat with other animal foods such as fish, poultry and eggs. “Not everyone wants to be vegan or vegetarian,” she said.

“Researchers are rightly calling for more and better research,” Forouhi added. “But in the meantime, it would be prudent to focus particularly on reducing the consumption of red and processed meat, for which the potential negative impacts on health and the environment are greatest.”

Nature

Gn Health

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