Plant-Based Meat Analogs and Their Effects on Cardiometabolic Health: An 8-Week Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Plant-Based Meat Analogs With Their Corresponding Animal-Based Foods

Am J Clin Nutr. 2024 Apr 8:S0002-9165(24)00396-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2024.04.006. Online ahead of print.


Background: With the growing popularity of plant-based meat analogs (PBMAs), an investigation of their effects on health is warranted in an Asian population.

Objectives: This research investigated the impact of consuming an omnivorous animal-based meat diet (ABMD) compared with a PBMAs diet (PBMD) on cardiometabolic health among adults with elevated risk of diabetes in Singapore.

Methods: In an 8-wk parallel design randomized controlled trial, participants (n = 89) were instructed to substitute habitual protein-rich foods with fixed quantities of either PBMAs (n = 44) or their corresponding animal-based meats (n = 45; 2.5 servings/d), maintaining intake of other dietary components. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol served as primary outcome, whereas secondary outcomes included other cardiometabolic disease-related risk factors (e.g. glucose and fructosamine), dietary data, and within a subpopulation, ambulatory blood pressure measurements (n = 40) at baseline and postintervention, as well as a 14-d continuous glucose monitor (glucose homeostasis-related outcomes; n = 37).

Results: Data from 82 participants (ABMD: 42 and PBMD: 40) were examined. Using linear mixed-effects model, there were significant interaction (time × treatment) effects for dietary trans-fat (increased in ABMD), dietary fiber, sodium, and potassium (all increased in PBMD; P-interaction <0.001). There were no significant effects on the lipid-lipoprotein profile, including LDL cholesterol. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was lower in the PBMD group (P-interaction=0.041), although the nocturnal DBP dip markedly increased in ABMD (+3.2% mean) and was reduced in PBMD (-2.6%; P-interaction=0.017). Fructosamine (P time=0.035) and homeostatic model assessment for β-cell function were improved at week 8 (P time=0.006) in both groups. Glycemic homeostasis was better regulated in the ABMD than PBMD groups as evidenced by interstitial glucose time in range (ABMD median: 94.1% (Q1:87.2%, Q3:96.7%); PBMD: 86.5% (81.7%, 89.4%); P = 0.041). The intervention had no significant effect on the other outcomes examined.

Conclusions: An 8-wk PBMA diet did not show widespread cardiometabolic health benefits compared with a corresponding meat based diet. Nutritional quality is a key factor to be considered for next generation PBMAs. This trial was registered at NCT05446753.

Keywords: animal protein; blood pressure; cardiovascular disease risk; diet; glycemia; meat; nutrients; plant protein; plant-based meat analogs; randomized controlled trial.

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