Study Finds Plant-Based Meat Analogues Offer No Health Advantage Over Animal-Based Diets

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While consuming vegetables, fruits, and nuts is generally considered healthier than eating meat, a recent eight-week study conducted by researchers in Singapore challenges the assumption when it comes to plant-based meat analogues or substitute meats. The study, which involved 82 volunteers and was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in April, revealed that plant-based meat analogue diets did not confer any health benefits over a traditional meat-based diet.

Contrary to expectations, the study found that participants on the animal-based diet exhibited better glycaemic control, a crucial factor for individuals with diabetes, based on continuous glucose monitoring results over three days. The researchers caution against equating the health benefits of traditional plant-based diets with those of plant-based meat analogues.

The research team from the Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation, a part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, undertook the study in response to the rising popularity of plant-based meat substitutes. Their aim was to assess the impact of these analogues on cardiometabolic health, encompassing heart health, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure, in comparison to conventional animal-based meat diets.

While acknowledging the established advantages of vegetarian and vegan diets over omnivorous diets, the researchers raised concerns about the deconstruction and reconstruction processes involved in producing plant-based meat analogues. These processes may inadvertently alter the health-promoting components naturally present in plant-based ingredients.

During the study, participants replaced their usual protein intake with fixed quantities provided by the research team, led by Mr. Darel Wee. Those on the animal-based meat diet (ABMD) received a selection of frozen foods such as beef mince, pork mince, chicken breast, burger patty, sausage, and chicken nuggets. In contrast, participants on the plant-based meat diet (PBMD) were provided with products like Impossible Beef (Impossible Foods), OmniMeat Mince (OmniFoods), Chickened Out Chunks and Little Peckers (The Vegetarian Butcher), and Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage Original Brat (Beyond Meat).

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