“mmmm Meat” by Glen MacLarty is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It’s Not Just Avoiding Red Meat, It’s the Substitute Diet That Influences Heart Health

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD Research Scientist, Dept of Nutrition, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health Instructor of Medicine, Channing Division of Network Medicine, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, 02115

Dr. Guasch-Ferré

Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD
Research Scientist, Dept of Nutrition
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
Instructor of Medicine, Channing Division of Network Medicin
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA, 02115

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Previous findings from randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of red meat on cardiovascular disease risk factors have been inconsistent.

But our new study, which makes specific comparisons between diets high in red meat versus diets high in other types of foods, shows that substituting red meat with high-quality protein sources lead to more favorable changes in cardiovascular risk factors. That is, to properly understand the health effects of red meat, it’s important to pay attention to the comparison diet. People do not simply eat more or less meat – it will almost always be in substitution with other foods. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: Our main finding is that when diets with red meat were compared to all other types of diets combined, there were no significant differences in total cholesterol, lipoproteins, or blood pressure, although diets higher in red meat did lead to higher tryglyceride concentrations than the comparison diets.

However, we found that diets higher in high-quality plant protein sources such as legumes, soy, and nuts resulted in lower levels of both total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol compared to diets with red meat.  

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future interventions should consider appropriate comparison foods when examining the effects of red meat intake,or any particular food, on cardiovascular risk factors and should prioritize the use of randomized controlled trials to identify food sources that promote optimal health and prevent chronic disease.

In particular, there is a need to determine the relative effects of different plant protein sources and red meats with different processing methods and saturated fat content on cardiovascular disease  and other chronic disease risk factors.  

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: As described in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, plant-based dietary patterns, specifically healthy vegetarian and Mediterranean- style diets, are of particular importance and should be recommended for their health benefits and to promote environmental sustainability.

No disclosures to report.  

I receive support for my work from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and I do not have any other financial disclosures or ties to other university or hospital systems. All views expressed in this interview are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Johns Hopkins University or of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of Red Meat Consumption in Comparison With Various Comparison Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Marta Guasch-Ferré, Ambika Satija, Stacy A. Blondin,
Marie JaniszewskiEster Emlen, Lauren E. O’Connor
Wayne W. Campbell
Frank B. Hu ,Walter C. Willett, cMeir J. Stampfer
9 Apr 2019

Circulation. 2019;139:1828–1845 

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Last Updated on April 22, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD