A recent study conducted by researchers from Germany has found that replacing animal-based foods with plant-based alternatives can have positive effects on cardiometabolic health and reduce the risk of all-cause mortality. The study, which involved a systematic review and meta-analysis of 37 meta-analyses and 32 studies, examined the impact of substituting animal-based foods with plant-based foods on health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and all-cause mortality.
The findings of the review indicated that shifting from animal-based foods to plant-based foods, such as nuts, legumes, whole grains, and olive oil, is associated with improved cardiometabolic health and a lower risk of all-cause mortality. Specifically, replacing one daily egg with nuts or butter with olive oil was linked to lower cardiovascular disease mortality. Substituting 50 grams of processed meat with 28 grams of nuts daily was associated with a lower incidence of coronary heart disease.
The study also found that replacing animal-based foods with plant-based alternatives, such as nuts or legumes, was inversely associated with the frequency of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, substituting red meat with nuts or whole grains, or processed meat with nuts or legumes, was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.
Registered dietitian nutritionists interviewed by Medical News Today expressed their support for the study’s findings and emphasized the benefits of plant-based diets for both health and the environment. Transitioning to more plant-based foods can reduce resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. However, they cautioned that a fully plant-based diet may not be suitable for everyone and that individual health conditions, preferences, and food accessibility should be considered.
The researchers acknowledged some limitations of their study, including the use of theoretical food substitutions in many of the analyzed studies and variations in portion sizes. They also noted that the observational nature of the studies prevented establishing causality.
In conclusion, the systematic review and meta-analysis provide further evidence that shifting from animal-based foods to plant-based alternatives can have positive effects on cardiometabolic health and reduce the risk of all-cause mortality. While more research is needed to establish causality and explore specific dietary replacements, incorporating more plant-based foods into the diet is a beneficial choice for individuals and the environment.