Health/Sci-TechLifestyleVOLUME 19 ISSUE # 1

Research supports healthy promise of more plant-based eating

An analysis of studies makes a familiar statement even more convincing: Eating fewer animal products is good for your health.

The analysis used information from 37 studies and was published in the journal BMC Medicine. “Our findings suggest that a shift in diet from a high consumption of animal-based foods, especially red and processed meat, to plant-based foods (e.g., nuts, legumes, and whole grains) is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, CVD and T2D,” researchers concluded. CVD is cardiovascular disease, and T2D is Type 2 diabetes.

The New York Times said, “The study is particularly useful because it details which dietary changes are most strongly linked to better health” and quoted Qi Sun, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Study. Sun was not involved in this research. The research estimated that replacing a single serving of processed meat each day with whole grains, nuts, or beans was associated with a 23% to 36% lower risk of cardiovascular problems such as stroke and heart attack, The New York Times noted.

Participants in the United States, Europe, and Asia were asked about their diets and followed for about 20 years. Researchers took into account other health factors such as physical activity and smoking. “These types of studies can’t determine if plant-based foods directly prevent cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes — only that there is an association between eating more of such foods and a lower risk of developing these conditions, said Sabrina Schlesinger, an epidemiologist and nutrition scientist at the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, Germany, and a lead author of the study,” The New York Times wrote.

“But the findings were consistent between studies, she said, and are supported by other research that points in the same direction.”

The Alpro Foundation, part of a Belgium company that makes plant-based products, partially paid for the research. Schlesinger said the company was not involved in conducting the study.