The findings showed that one to two servings of plant proteins every day could reduce the main cholesterol markers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol LDL or “bad” cholesterol, non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B by about 5 per cent.
“We are seeing a major interest in plant-based diets from Mediterranean to vegetarian diets in the supermarket and the clinic, and this comprehensive analysis of the highest level of evidence from randomized trials provides us with more confidence that these diets are heart healthy,” said lead author John Sievenpiper of St. Michael’s Hospital in Ontario, Canada.
The health benefits could be even greater if people combined plant proteins with other cholesterol-lowering foods such as viscous, water-soluble fibres from oats, barley and psyllium, and plant sterols, said Sievenpiper. For the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 112 randomised control trials in which people substituted plant proteins for some animal proteins in their diets for at least three weeks.
According to a previous study, a diet high in animal protein is associated with a higher risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat builds up in the liver, in overweight people. Long-term adherence to a plant-based diet can lead to changes in body composition which help in reducing the cholesterol levels as well as help weight loss and lower blood pressure.