Red meat not so bad for CV endpoints, but plants are better

  • Guasch-Ferré M & al.
  • Circulation
  • 9 Apr 2019

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • Red meat consumption compared with other diets does not have clear negative cardiovascular (CV) effects, but substituting high-quality plants for red meat results in a better lipid profile.
  • Substitutions with poor-quality carbohydrates or fish does not lead to the same favorable changes.

Why this matters

  • This meta-analysis flattens some of the presumed differentials between red-meat-based diets vs diets substituted with other foods.
  • The authors say that their findings foreground high-quality plant foods vs red meat, offering support for related messaging about healthy food choices.

Key results

  • When a red meat diet was compared with other types of diets, most lipid measures did not vary among them.
  • Red meat consumption was tied to lesser reductions in triglycerides.
  • High-quality plants instead of red meat were tied to better total cholesterol (P<.001 low-density lipoprotein cholesterol measures.>
  • Substituting with fish did not lead to this favorable comparison.
  • Substituting with chicken/poultry showed no difference with red meat.
  • Substituting with carbohydrates or combined animal protein sources favored red meat for triglyceride decreases.

Study design

  • Meta-analysis of 36 randomized controlled trials, n=1803, intervention durations of 2-36 weeks.
  • Funding: American Diabetes Association.

Limitations

  • Most of the studies were small.
  • Low adherence plagues dietary intervention trials.