The science is clear: a vegetarian diet is better for heart health, a study says – but does that include processed meat analogues? “While not as healthful as whole plants, they are useful transition foods,” says one researcher.
There is strong and consistent evidence that a plant-based diet is beneficial for heart health, preventing, or even reversing atherosclerosis as well as reducing risk factors, such as blood pressure, weight, and blood lipids.
This is according to the authors of a review that gathered results from multiple clinical trials and observational studies.Defining a plant-based diet as one high in vegetables, grains, pulses and nuts, a vegan diet is associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease; and is linked to either fully or partially opening blocked arteries in up to 91% of patients.
Useful ‘transition foods’
Responsible Medicine and study author Hana Kahleova, Ph.D, M.D. said a “whole-food, plant-based diet” is the healthiest option. Аnd the less processed the foods are, the better. However, plant-based meat replacements made from soy, wheat or pea protein, for instance, with added flavours, colours and texturisers are useful, she added.
Processed plant-based foods like veggie sausage, bacon or vegan cheese can be useful for some to use as transition foods, because they provide the taste of the animal products people are accustomed to consuming, with fewer health risks.
While they may not be as healthful as whole plant foods, they аre often much lower in cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat than animal-based foods. Processed plant proteins could also be a to a healthier diet as a whole. Often, as people experiment more with plant foods, their taste buds change, and they rely less on these processed foods and more on whole plant foods.
There are also many great plant-based replacements made from healthful, whole foods, for example veggie burgers made with beans, rice, and vegetables.
I personally agree that meat and cheese substitutes could be extremely helpful for transitioning vegans, who are still not at ease, changing their cooking habits. They can also prove very useful when aiming to help another member of the family transition to plant based eating.
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