Are plant meats a healthy substitute for animal meats?

Plant-based meats are processed foods, but they may still protect your heart.

Researchers had 36 adults eat at least two servings a day of ordinary meats (like ground beef and sausage) for eight weeks and similar plant-based versions (supplied by Beyond Meat, which funded the study) for eight weeks.

LDL (“bad”) cholesterol was about 11 points lower, weight was 2 pounds lower, and TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) levels were about 40 percent lower when the participants ate the plant meats. TMAO, which is made by gut bacteria that dine on the carnitine in red meat, has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.

What to do: Swap meats for plant-based meats that have less saturated fat (like the study did) to help your heart and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

And when it comes to sodium, protein, and more, check out our 10-step guide to shopping for the healthiest plant-based meats.

Photos: barmalini/

The information in this post first appeared in the October 2020 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

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