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Plant-based meat critics have previously slammed Beyond Meat over it’s ‘proccessed’ ingredients list – but is Beyond Meat healthy? And is it healthier than meat?

A new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, says swapping from animal meat to vegan Beyond Meat can offer health benefits.

The SWAP-MEAT Study, conducted by Standford University, became the first clinical trial of Beyond Meat’s plant-based products.

Is Beyond Meat healthier than meat?

According to the study’s authors, until now, there has been limited evidence of the health effects of plant-based alternative meats. So, they set out to compare the effect of consuming plant-based alternatives as opposed to animal meat on health factors.

The 36 participants in the single-site, randomized crossover trial received ‘plant and animal products, and dietary counseling’. Participants also underwent measures such as ‘lab assessments, microbiome assessments, and anthropometric measurements’.

“[Participants] were instructed to consume more than two servings of plant protein compared with animal for eight weeks each… While keeping all other foods and beverages as similar as possible between the two phases,” says the study.

Health benefits

Researchers found healthy participants experienced improvements in myriad health markets when swapping their protein from animal to plant-based meat.

PBN can reveal that after switching the protein, participants’ levels of LDL cholesterol dropped by an average of 10 milligrams per deciliter. Scientists deem this as ‘statistically significant and clinically significant too’.

Plant-based meats reduced TMAO (fasting serum trimethylamine-N-oxide) levels among participants. Another study found people with elevated TMAO had a 60 percent higher risk for adverse cardiovascular events. This includes health implications such as heart attacks.

Researchers also found similar sodium intake and blood pressure levels between the animal-based and plant-based phases of the study. They argued this ‘debunks the myth that consuming plant-based meats results in higher sodium intake’. In addition, participants lost 2lb on average during the plant-based portion of the study.

‘Improved several cardiovascular disease risk factors’

The study concludes: “Among generally healthy adults, contrasting plant with animal intake, while keeping all other dietary components similar… plant products improved several cardiovascular disease risk factors, including TMAO. There were no adverse effects on risk factors from the plant products.”

The SWAP-MEAT Study was funded by an unrestricted gift from Beyond Meat. It used products from the company in comparing the health effects of animal meat with plant-based meat. Beyond Meat had no involvement in designing or conducting the study and did not participate in data analysis.

Is Beyond Meat Healthy?

The brand argues it’s healthier than its meat counterparts. Its products are ‘made from simple ingredients derived from plants.. without GMOs, synthetically produced ingredients, antibiotics or hormones’

“[Our] products offer protein levels greater than or equal to their animal-based counterparts.”

Beyond Meat says all of its products are free-from cholesterol, antibiotics and hormones.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.