Replacing processed meat with plant-based foods could reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, a new study suggests.
Meat reworked by salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or various flavor-enhancing processes called processed meats. Ham, sausages, corned beef and beef jerky are some examples.
The new study, published in the journal BMC Drugs, recommends replacing meat, poultry, fish, eggs and processed dairy products with plant-based foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, oils, fruits and vegetables for better cardiometabolic health and reduce all-cause mortality.
When a person exchanged 50 grams of processed meat per day for 28 to 50 grams of nuts, there was a 27% reduction in the total incidence of coronary heart disease. Replacing meat with the same amount of legumes resulted in a 23% reduction in heart disease. Replacing 50 grams of processed meat with 10 to 28 grams of nuts per day reduced the risk of diabetes by 22%. German researchers made these discoveries after analyzing 37 revealed researches.
“This evidence highlights the potential benefits of switching from an animal-based diet, 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 creator of the research.
The main advantage of the evaluation was that the results did not depend on a single piece of research, but were carried out after systematically summarizing all available evidence on the topic, Schlesinger said.
The research does not present a causal link but establishes an affiliation. Although the findings are not “completely new,” Schlesinger said the results were consistent with previous research, indicating “a high degree of confidence in the impact estimate.”
Researchers have not analyzed the reasons for the health benefits of switching to plant-based foods. Nonetheless, one plausible explanation is the composition of processed meats versus plant-based meals. Processed meat contains saturated fatty acids and high levels of sodium, nitrates and nitrites linked to the cardiovascular system and diabetes, while plant-based foods contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals associated with reducing irritation.