Dr Matthew Nagra Unveils Major Review On Vegan Meat And Heart Health

A new study rules that plant-based meat is better for heart health


(updated )

3 Minutes Read

Renowned plant-based doctor Dr Matthew Nagra Dr Matthew Nagra has shone fresh light on the "ultra processed" plant-based meat debate - Media Credit: Supplied

A new review of existing scientific studies concludes that “highly processed” plant-based meats are still better for heart health than traditional animal-based proteins.

Read more: Is Processed Vegan Food Bad For Your Heart? A Fact Check

Despite ongoing debate on ultra-processed foods (UPFs), the review found that plant-based meat alternatives (PBMAs) “align with recommendations for improving cardiovascular health,” due in part to their boosted fiber content and reduced saturated fatty acids (SFA).

Dr Matthew Nagra, a renowned plant-based doctor who is known for his informative health posts on social media, is one of the authors of the study. Taking to Instagram, he wrote that the study “supports that swapping out meat for PBMAs is likely a more heart-healthy choice.”

Overall, the researchers found that swapping meat for plant-based alternatives could potentially help improve cardiovascular risk factors and cholesterol levels, despite significant nutritional variance between different brands, lines, and products.

They notably also said that even plant-based meats with high sodium have not yet been linked to higher blood pressure, whereas animal-based red and processed meats have.

“Commercially available PBMAs are nutritionally diverse but generally have a cardioprotective nutritional profile relative to meat,” Nagra wrote on the study, alongside fellow authors Felicia Tsam, Shaun Ward, and Ehud Ur. “Including less SFA and more fiber per serving.”

Read more: Germany’s Dietary Guidelines Now Acknowledge Plant-Based Benefits

Processed foods ‘not necessarily a bad thing’

Photo shows two large plant-based burgers on a wooden board
Adobe Stock Nutritional content varies considerably between products, but plant-based meat is still better overall

The review – titled “Animal vs Plant-Based Meat: A Hearty Debate” – was published earlier this week in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology (CJC). It incorporated studies published over 53 years from 1970 to 2023 which focused on the nutritional content of plant-based meat products and cardiovascular disease risk factors and outcomes.

The authors note that, despite growing media coverage of ultra-processed foods and their risks to human health, no study has yet delineated which types of UPFs are responsible for increased disease risk and which are not. For example, processed meat is linked to increased risk while whole wheat bread – also a processed food – is linked to decreased risk.

“Plant-based meat alternatives get a bad wrap because they can be classified as ultra-processed, but when you actually put them to the test against the meat they are mimicking in randomized controlled trials, they tend to improve cardiovascular risk factors,” Dr Nagra told Plant Based News.

Read more: New ‘Ultra-Processed’ Guide Answers All Your Questions On UPFs

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