High Plant Diet Wins Again


Chicken is not more heart-healthful than red meat, according to a new study from Oakland Research Institute. The study showed that chicken and mammal meat caused the same high rises in blood cholesterol levels that predict increased risk for heart attacks, while equal amounts of protein and saturated fats from plant sources resulted in lower levels (Am J of Clin Nutr, June 4, 2019).

A group of 177 healthy men and women, 21–65 years old, ate diets that contained equivalent amounts of high or low saturated fat from mammal meat, chicken, or plants. The participants spent four weeks on each of the diets, in random order. The researchers concluded that eating equivalent amounts of saturated fats from chicken or meat resulted in the same high levels of the unhealthful LDL cholesterol in their bloodstream, but eating the same amount of saturated fats from plants produced far lower levels of the LDL cholesterol fractions.

The lead author said, "We expected red meat to have a more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat, but we were surprised that this was not the case." He also noted that, "Our results indicate that current advice to restrict red meat and not white meat should not be based only on their effects on blood cholesterol. Indeed, other effects of red meat consumption could contribute to heart disease, and these effects should be explored in more detail in an effort to improve health." See my recent report on Heart Attacks Again Linked to Red Meat. It is still controversial whether chicken and turkey increase risk for heart attacks.

More Data on Meat vs Plants
Heart disease: A study from Loma Linda, CA, showed that eating meat and chicken was associated with a 60 percent increased risk for heart disease, while eating the same amount of protein from plants, such as beans, nuts and seeds, was associated with a 40 percent reduction in heart disease (International Journal of Epidemiology, Oct 2018;47(5):1603–1612).
Heart attacks: The Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study found that eating mammal protein increased heart attack risk, while plant protein decreased risk (Circulation, Jun 1, 2018;11(6)). Mammal meat was associated with increased risk for heart attacks and arteriosclerosis (Circulation, April 22, 2019), while a high plant diet was associated with reduced heart attack risk and a lowering of the harmful LDL cholesterol (Int J Epidemiol, 2018;47(5):1603–12).
Heart failure: Eating mammal meat (Int J Cardiol, 2015; 193:42–46), processed meat (Circ Heart Fail, 2014; 7:552–557), or eggs (Front Nutr, 2017; 4:10) was associated with increased risk for heart failure. Eating deep-water fish (Eur J Clin Nutr, 2016; 70:1015–1021) or whole grains (J Am Diet Assoc, 2008;108:1881–1887) was associated with reduced risk for heart failure.
Deaths from heart attacks: Increased intake of animal protein has been associated with increased death rate from heart attacks (Clin Nutr, 2016; 35:496–506), and increased intake of plant protein has been associated with reduced death rate from heart attacks (JAMA Intern Med, 2016; 176:1453–1463).

Fried Foods Increase Heart Attack Risk
Data from the Women's Health Initiative showed that frequent consumption of fried foods, especially fried chicken and fried fish or shellfish, was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality in women (BMJ, Jan 23, 2019;364). Frying foods causes the sugar in them to stick on to the protein to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in chicken, fish, and meat to increase heart attack risk.

My Recommendations
To help prevent heart attacks, I recommmend that you restrict mammal meat and processed meats. Whatever you decide about eating animal protein, I recommend that you eat lots of foods from plants — vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and other seeds. Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Inflammatory Foods