A number of studies have highlighted the health risks of excessive intake of red or processed meat, with more and more experts recommending limiting its consumption. And while many are trying to reduce its intake, the claims that the reduced consumption of this food category has an impact on ensuring the necessary amount of proteins, but also on bone health, hinders efforts for a healthier diet.
A new study comes to give new impetus to the dietary pattern that supports the reduced consumption of red and processed meat and the increased consumption of legumes and plant foods in general, as, according to its results, the replacement of animal products with protein plant foods does not negatively affect the health. The new scientific conclusions are published in the British Journal Of Nutrition titled (“Effects of partial replacement of red and processed meat with non-soya legumes on bone and mineral metabolism and amino acid intakes in BeanMan randomised clinical trial“).
In particular, the study conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki showed that partially replacing red and processed meat with legumes ensured sufficient amino acid intake and did not negatively affect bone metabolism.
The BeanMan study involved 102 Finnish men, who were divided into two dietary groups for six weeks:
1. One group of participants consumed 760 grams of red and processed meat per week, which was 25% of their total protein intake. This amount corresponds to the average protein consumption of Finnish men.
2. The other group consumed food products based on legumes, mainly peas and beans, which accounted for 20% of the total protein intake. The amount of red and processed meat consumed weekly by this group was at the upper limit of the Planetary Health Diet (200g or 5% of total protein intake).
Otherwise, the participants followed their usual diet, but kept to those predetermined amounts of red or processed meat or legumes prescribed by the study.
The results of the study showed no differences between the groups in terms of bone mineral density, nor in calcium or vitamin D intake. In particular, calcium intake was in line with current dietary recommendations, while vitamin D intake was very close to they. The mean intake of essential amino acids and proteins met the recommendations in both groups.
A plant-based diet is becoming increasingly popular, with current state Dietary Guidelines constantly emphasizing the need to reduce animal-based foods.
It should be noted that in this study, participants maintained their dairy consumption habits, so calcium and vitamin D intake remained unchanged. However, when it comes to bone health, it is important to keep in mind that if one is reducing the amount of dairy products they consume, it is necessary to ensure their intake of calcium and vitamin D from other sources. These sources can be plant-based drinks and yogurt desserts, fortified with these nutrients or, when necessary, dietary supplements.