Scientists question health claims of meat substitutes

The popularity of plant-based meat analogues is growing every year, but few scientists evaluate the health effects of these products. A recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed the effects of diets containing animal meat versus diets containing plant-based meat analogues on cardiometabolic health.

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Plant-based diets are believed to have a positive effect on cardiometabolic health due to the presence of a wide range of bioactive components, such as vitamins, dietary fiber, carotenoids and so on. Despite the benefits, long-term adherence can be challenging because meat consumption is deeply rooted in culture, history and social norms.

Plant-based meats, developed from sustainable plant sources, strive to replicate the sensory properties of their animal counterparts. Given the growing popularity of this type of food, it is important to critically evaluate its impact on health in comparison with a conventional diet.

The present study aimed to evaluate the effects of these two types of diets on cardiometabolic health among people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The primary hypothesis was that replacing animals with plant-based meats would improve cardiometabolic health and reduce risks associated with non-communicable diseases.

An 8-week randomized controlled trial with a parallel design was conducted in 89 people. participants. According to the study results, no significant effects on the lipid-lipoprotein profile were noted; however, both dietary patterns were associated with lower fructosamine and higher HOMA-β levels over time. The results did not show any clear benefits of either diet for cardiometabolic health.

How do the compositions of meat and plant-based alternatives differ?

Scientists found that meat alternatives may not be complete substitutes.

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The study results provide incentive and motivation for the food industry to develop the next generation of meat substitutes with higher nutritional properties and bioavailability.