THE GUARDIAN – Replacing meat and dairy with whole grains, beans, nuts and olive oil may significantly reduce cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, according to a major review into the impact of diet on health.
Researchers in Germany analysed 37 published studies to assess the benefits of switching from red and processed meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products to plant-based foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, oils, fruit and vegetables.
They found marked reductions in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of dying from any cause during the periods covered by the studies, especially when red and processed meats were replaced with plant-based foods.
Dr Sabrina Schlesinger, a senior author on the study at the German Diabetes Centre in Düsseldorf said:
“This evidence highlights the potential benefits of shifting from animal-based diets, including red and processed meat, eggs, dairy, poultry and butter, to plant-based foods like nuts, legumes, whole grains and olive oil.”
The risk of cardiovascular disease was about 25% lower when 50g of processed meat a day was replaced with nuts or legumes.
Meanwhile, replacing one egg a day with 25g of nuts was linked to a 17% lower risk. But there was no clear evidence that replacing poultry or fish with nuts or legumes reduced cardiovascular disease.
Similar benefits were seen for type 2 diabetes and all causes of death recorded by the studies analysed.
The authors calculated a reduction in type 2 diabetes of about 20% when 50g of processed meat daily was swapped for up to 28g of nuts, or when a daily egg was replaced with 30g of whole grains or 10g of nuts.
Replacing processed meat, which was often red meat in the form of ham, bacon, sausages or hotdogs, was linked to the clearest health benefits …