More on meat, high protein diets and health

A long-term Spanish study of older adults with cardiovascular risk factors that assessed protein consumption for roughly five years.
The study found that when protein replaced carbohydrates, the eating pattern was linked to a 90% greater risk of gaining more than 10% of body weight and to a 59% higher risk of death from any cause. When protein replaced fat, the risk of death rose by 66%. The study authors concluded that “These results do not support the generalized use of high-protein diets as a good strategy for losing weight,” and suggested that “Long-term efficacy and safety of these diets deserve more attention,”

A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials published in 2019 in the journal Circulation found that replacing red meat with nuts, legumes, and other plant-based protein foods (but not with fish or low-quality carbohydrates), reduced levels of CVD risk factors such as total cholesterol and LDL-C. A long-term epidemiologic study published in 2019 in the British Medical Journal, found that increases in red meat consumption over eight years were associated with a higher mortality risk in the following eight years. An increase in total red meat consumption of at least half a serving per day was associated with a 10% higher mortality risk. For processed meat, the risk was increased by 13%, and, for unprocessed red meat consumption, there was a 9% higher mortality risk. An increase in consumption of whole grains, vegetables, or other protein sources was associated with a lower risk of death.

Additional information on the CVD effects of processed meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, or fish intake comes from a 2020 analysis of six prospective cohort studies. Two or more servings of processed meat, unprocessed red meat, or poultry,
but not fish, per week was significantly associated with a small (about 4% to 7%) increased risk of CVD, and higher intake of processed meat or unprocessed red meat, but not poultry or fish, was significantly associated with a small increased risk
of all-cause mortality.

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