Substituting a plant-based meal for one with animal protein just one or two times a week could lead to a reduced chance of cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that eating plant-based meals a few times a week reduced the three main cholesterol markers for cardiovascular disease by about five percent. Lead author Dr. John Sievenpiper went on to note that these health benefits could be even greater if plant-based meals were made with other cholesterol-lowering foods, such as fiber-rich oats and barley.
"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," Sievenpiper said in a press release.
Most of the 112 randomized control trials studied by the researchers found that replacing soy protein for dairy protein for at least three weeks was beneficial. Nuts, peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas were also found to have the same positive health effects.
Movements such as Meatless Monday, a global campaign encouraging people to cook plant-based meals at home at least once a week, have shown people how simple it is to make small changes in their diets, such as those highlighted by the study authors.
A study published last month found that eating a mostly plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and fish contributed to a 42 percent reduction in the risk of heart failure. This summer, the American Medical Association released a statement noting that a shift towards plant-based meals in hospital food menus would contribute to improved health for patients.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death around the world, according to the World Health Organization, contributing to an estimated 31 percent of all deaths worldwide.
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