When it comes to lowering cholesterol levels naturally, through lifestyle changes, it often entails a significant change.
But a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that one small dietary change a day can have a big impact on cholesterol levels.
Canadian researchers reviewed 112 previously published randomized controlled trials that replaced their subjects’ animal meat with plant proteins for three or more weeks.
They found that replacing just one or two animal proteins a day lowered LDL cholesterol, other low-density lipoproteins, and apolipoprotein B, a component of cholesterol that has also been linked to heart disease.
The lead author recommended that we should enhance the effect by combining plant proteins with other cholesterol-lowering foods such as oats, barley, psyllium, slime, and plant sterols such as those from grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Many foods are also artificially fortified with plant sterols.
The author also suggested that you could get the best plant proteins from soy, nuts, peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
You don’t have to limit yourself to just two replacements a day, of course; the more the better.
Some examples of substitutions:
1. Replace milk with almond, cashew or soy milk in your cereal and hot drinks throughout the day.
2. Substitute peanut or almond butter for butter.
3. Eat bean or lentil stew instead of beef stew.
4. Instead of grilled or roasted pieces of meat, use vegetarian substitutes made from textured vegetable protein, such as textured soy.
Attention: how to get all essential amino acids
If you replace all or most of your animal proteins with plant proteins, you’ll need to pay attention to make sure you’re getting all the amino acids you need.
Animal proteins contain all of the amino acids, but most plant proteins only contain a few of them. That’s why it’s best to get plant proteins from different plants, not just one or two.
But there are some plant proteins that contain all the amino acids, such as soy, tofu, tempeh, edamame, quinoa, buckwheat, Ezekiel bread, seitan (wheat gluten), chia seed and seed (both low in lysine), rice and bean combo, hummus and pita, or the old classic, a peanut butter sandwich.
In fact, whenever you combine legumes and grains, you get a complete protein with all the necessary amino acids.