A recent study found there were no differences in any of the 92 biomarkers of inflammation between grass-fed red meat and plant-based meat alternatives. This study is similar to other studies, which have found no differences in inflammation when more red meat and dairy products are consumed.
IS BEYOND MEAT HEALTHY SUMMARY
- Is Beyond Meat healthy has been a source of confusion for many people. Interestingly, Beyond Meat beef products had no effects on lowering markers of inflammation compared to grass-fed meat.
- This study was part of a larger trial that found that plant based meat products resulted in lower LDL and TMAO levels in adults.
IS FAKE MEAT A HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE TO GRASS-FED RED MEAT?
Over the last few years, many people have been looking for meat alternatives (i.e., plant-based ground beef and products) for health, environment, and animal welfare issues. Consequently, Veggie burgers, plant-based burgers, plant-based steak tips, and Impossible food products can be found in all major grocery retailers and are a part of the favorite recipes of vegans.
The use of plant-based meat products such as beyond meat ground beef, beyond meat burgers, and Beyond steak has doubled since 2020. Subsequently, consumers are looking for healthy ingredient lists of food alternatives that are wheat/gluten-free and GMOS soy or gluten-free.
Recently is found that red meat increased the levels of the molecule trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO is a molecule produced in the stomach and is associated with increased inflammation and risk of cardiovascular disease. (Park et al., 2019; Wang et al., 2019)
Recent studies have found that vegans and vegetarians have lower levels of TMAO compared to red meat eaters. (Park et al., 2019) Moreover, several studies have found that plant-based diets have lower inflammation. (Craddock et al., 2019; Menzel et al., 2020) Inflammation is a normal process in the body; chronic inflammation can lead to adverse health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, depression, sarcopenia, and dementia. (Alfaddagh et al., 2020; Beurel et al., 2020; Jimenez-Gutierrez et al., 2022)
Researchers wanted to examine if plant-based meat alternatives such as Beyond Meat products were associated with lower levels of inflammation (i.e., Interleukin-6 and related markers of inflammation). For this purpose, the study was the second part of the SWAP-MEAT study in which subjects were assigned to consume red meat and plant-based alternatives for eight weeks.
IS BEYOND MEAT HEALTHY STUDY
In the research study, 36 people (average age of 50, average BMI of 28) were assigned to eat at least two 3–4 ounce servings of animal or plant-based imitation meat per day. Each participant followed both diets in a random order.
The subjects assigned to the animal meat diet consumed ground beef (i.e., 80% lean, grass-fed), beef burger (grass-fed), pork sausage, bratwurst, and chicken breast.
The plant-based meat alternative diet had meat alternatives supplied by Beyond Meat. The plant imitation meat diet consisted of burgers, beef crumbles, sausage, and chicken strips. Importantly, the subjects consumed similar protein between the two diets. The plant-based imitation diet resulted in a lower intake of total fat, saturated fat, and calories and a higher intake of dietary fibers. The researchers measured over 92 inflammatory markers.
Surprisingly, at the end of eight weeks, there were no differences in any of the 92 biomarkers of inflammation between grass-fed red meat and plant-based meat alternatives.(Crimarco et al., 2022) This study is similar to other studies, which have found no differences in inflammation when more red meat and dairy products are consumed. (Foerster et al., 2014; Moosavian et al., 2020)
Some have suggested that the vegan meats and Beyond beef ingredients are processed (i.e., ingredients added to enhance juiciness and flavor), which has negative health outcomes. Processed foods are associated with increased weight gain. However, the Beyond Meat nutrition facts contain high protein and lower saturated and total fats.
This study was the second part of a larger study in which several improvements in cardiovascular disease were improved, including TMAO, for plant-based meat products. The results could have been due to the plant based meat ingredients in the plant-based meat alternatives.
Interestingly, swapping out red meat with legumes (i.e., faba beans, black beans, etc.) has been shown to reduce inflammation. (Hematdar et al., 2018; Hosseinpour-Niazi et al., 2015; Hosseinpour-Niazi et al., 2022) The difference between the results in the current study using meat alternatives and legumes is the higher amounts of fiber, polyphenols, etc., found in legumes.
There don’t seem to be any dangers to plant-based meat products, as widely stated on the internet. Previous studies have found that Beyond Meat has a lower amino acid bioavailability than red meat. Beyond Burger calories are lower than that of a regular beef patty.
People often ask, “Are Impossible Burgers healthy?” Plant-based ground beef alternatives may be healthy as they contain more vitamins and nutrients than regular beef burgers.
There is still intense debate on if plant-based imitation meat is healthier than grass-fed beef. This research was part of a bigger project to enhance cardiovascular health, such as reducing TMAO with plant-based meat products. (Crimarco et al., 2020)
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