If a burger-a-day diet was healthy, that would be fantastic. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not bad. You’ve got protein, hopefully, some vegetables on top (and on the side), and even some fibre from the roll (did you use whole grain?).
Unfortunately, study after study demonstrates that meat isn’t the healthiest protein source.
Plant-based protein is considerably superior to animal-based protein.
Plant-based diets are often considered to be healthier.
In fact, according to a 2017 review published in the International Journal of Epidemiology that looked at 95 studies, eating five servings of plants per day reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke slightly, and increasing that to ten servings per day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 28% and overall death by 31%.
These studies do show relationships, but these are correlations, not causations.
Plant-based protein sources like beans, on the other hand, are a healthier alternative to bacon for a variety of reasons.
The researchers aren’t implying that a thick Delmonico or a flame-grilled cheeseburger isn’t OK.
Instead, you should consume them in moderation.
In general, evidence shows that eating less animal meat, particularly red meat, is better for long-term health than eating more.
You don’t have to like tofu (it’s not the best plant-based protein), as long as you try to get most of your protein from plants rather than animals.
Here’s a closer look at why:
Plant protein contains more minerals and fibre than animal protein (though not all of the amino acids)
Animal meat is well-known for its nutritious content.
You may get all the amino acids you need to make your biological proteins as well as vitamins like B12, niacin, thiamine, B5, B6, B7, and vitamins A and K if you eat a variety of animal meats (light and dark, not just beef), as well as diverse organs.
But here’s the thing: You won’t be any worse off if you replace all that animal protein with an equally diverse diet of plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, and beans.
This is because these foods have a similar range of nutrients.
The most significant distinction is vitamin B12, which most plants are unable to synthesize on their own.
B12 can be found in edible seaweed and fortified cereals, however supplementing or eating animal products is the most convenient method to receive it.
Andrea Giancoli, a certified dietician in California, claims that plant-based proteins are considerably healthier than their meat counterparts because they have the same nutritional profile.
That’s because they pack more nutrients into fewer calories per pound.
They also contain fibre, which is lacking in animal proteins. (Except tofu, which is processed, as Giancoli points out.) Not to mention the fibre.
Fiber improves digestion, encourages a healthy gut microbiota, and is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
People that eat a portion of their protein from plants have better habits.
Even after controlling for other relevant characteristics like socioeconomic class, weight, and exercise habits, meta-analyses that examined persons who eat animal versus plant proteins consistently indicate that those who eat plants live longer, healthier lives.
They had fewer instances of cardiovascular disease and cancer, albeit the cancer relationship, in particular, fades after other factors are taken into account.
Despite all of the control, there is still a link between living a longer life and having fewer cardiac problems.
There are almost certainly some minor elements that play a role in the link.
Plant protein eaters are more likely to see their doctor regularly, resulting in better preventive care.
Perhaps they choose to live in less noisy, less polluted areas.
Meta-analyses have typically concluded that lifestyle factors alone cannot explain the association between eating plant proteins and overall health because correlations are still present after controlling for other factors.
“Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially from processed red meat, may give a major health benefit,” according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which also recommended that governments promote plant proteins.
Meat contains more saturated fats.
Another reason steak is bad for you is the fact that frequently comes with it.
Fat provides mouthfeel and flavor to steaks and burgers, which is why they’re so tasty.
However, it tends to clog up your heart.
“You get less saturated fat and no cholesterol with plant proteins,” Giancoli continues, “so you get that benefit as well.”
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and contribute to cardiovascular disease (albeit not to the same extent as trans fats) by raising total cholesterol levels.
In the long run, this could tip the balance in favor of LDL (low-density lipid), which clogs arteries.
Nuts, avocados, and fish, for example, contain significantly fewer saturated fats than red and other dark meats.
As a result, they’re known as “healthy fats.”
Red meat that has been processed is carcinogenic, and grilled meat may be as well.
You’ve certainly heard about the enormous World Health Organization (WHO) report from a few years ago that declared processed red meats to be cancerous.
Consumption of red meat has been linked to colorectal cancer, as well as pancreatic and prostate cancer.
Colorectal cancer is also linked to processed meats like bacon and sausage.
Even grilled meat is known to contain carcinogenic chemicals (mainly in the black char marks), and seared meat has a similar impact.
Meat isn’t the most important factor in the fight against cancer.
According to the WHO’s Global Burden of Disease Project, which is a subgroup of the WHO, the number of annual cancer cases caused by red meat is estimated to be around 50,000.
In comparison, air pollution kills 200,000 people, alcohol kills 600,000 people, and tobacco kills one million people. But it’s not insignificant.
If we look at things from a long-term, zoomed-out perspective, it’s quite clear that obtaining your protein from plants is the healthier option.
Dietitians like Giancoli, on the other hand, are emphatic about one thing: food should be enjoyable.
We shouldn’t live our lives solely on ice cream and pizza, but if you enjoy burgers, you should indulge.
Not every night, but occasionally. Balance and moderation, as many dietitians will tell you, are the keys to a successful diet. In addition, there are beans.