Replacing red and processed meat with plant sources of protein reduces risk for heart disease and early death, according to findings presented by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health at the American Heart Association’s EPI Lifestyle 2020 Scientific Sessions. The NIH-funded research found that those who ate the most plant protein were 27 percent less likely to die of any cause and 29 percent less likely to die from heart disease, compared with people who ate the least. Additionally, the researchers estimated that replacing 5 percent of calories from animal protein with an equal number of calories from plant protein was linked to almost a 50 percent decreased risk for dying from any cause including heart disease, while a 2 percent replacement of processed meat protein with plant protein was associated with a 32 percent reduced risk for death. They concluded that substituting one serving per day of red or processed meat with foods such as nuts, legumes, and whole grains could reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 47 percent. These foods, the researchers note, have compounds other than protein including antioxidants and phytochemicals that are associated with lower risk of chronic disease.
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References: Haslam DE, Rehm CD, Song M, Hu FB, Zhang FF, Bhupathiraju SN. American Heart Association EPI | LIFESTYLE 2020 Scientific Sessions – Abstracts P510 and P512. March 5, 2020: Phoenix, AZ.