The SWAP-MEAT Study, conducted by Stanford University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is the first clinical trial of Beyond Meat’s plant-based products.
According to the study's authors, until now, there has been limited evidence of the health effects of plant-based alternative meats, despite their rising popularity. So they set out to compare the effect of consuming plant-based alternative meat as opposed to animal meat on health factors.
The 36 participants in the single-site, randomized crossover trial received 'plant and animal products, dietary counseling, lab assessments, microbiome assessments, and anthropometric measurements'.
"They were instructed to consume more than two servings of plant protein compared with animal for eight weeks each, while keeping all other foods and beverages as similar as possible between the two phases," says the study.
Weight loss and other health benefits
The researchers found that when the healthy adult participants swapped their protein from animal to plant-based meat, they experienced improvements in myriad health markets.
A statement sent to Plant Based News revealed that after switching the protein, study participants' levels of LDL cholesterol (sometimes called 'bad' cholesterol) dropped by an average of 10 milligrams per deciliter, which is deemed 'statistically significant and clinically significant too'.
Plant-based meats reduced TMAO (fasting serum trimethylamine-N-oxide) levels among participants - this could be significant as another recent study found that people with elevated TMAO had a 60 percent higher risk for adverse cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack
Another noteworthy finding was researchers found similar sodium intake and blood pressure levels between the animal-based and plant-based phases of the study, which they say 'debunks the myth that consuming plant-based meats results in higher sodium intake'. In addition, participants lost 2lb, on average during the plant-based portion of the study.
'Improved several cardiovascular disease risk factors'
The study concluded: "Among generally healthy adults, contrasting plant with animal intake, while keeping all other dietary components similar, the plant products improved several cardiovascular disease risk factors, including TMAO; there were no adverse effects on risk factors from the plant products."
The SWAP-MEAT Study conducted at Stanford University was funded by an unrestricted gift from Beyond Meat and used products from the company in comparing the health effects of animal meat with plant-based meat. Beyond Meat was not involved in designing or conducting the study and did not participate in data analysis.