You are reading The heart, include more vegetable proteins in your diet to protect it?

Food & diet

The heart, include more vegetable proteins in your diet to protect it?

February 23, 2018


The guidelines for proper nutrition always stress the importance of plant products. The leitmotiv is “more fruit, vegetables and whole grains”, with the addition of legumes and dried fruits. A diet in which these products are the protagonists is certainly an ally of general well being and cardiovascular health. Several studies have confirmed the benefits of these foods for our health. Finally, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association: Replacing one or two portions of animal protein with vegetable protein every day could lead to a reduction of three fat markers in the blood by about 4%. We discuss this topic with Doctor Maddalena Lettino of the cardiovascular Department at Humanitas.

Related articles

Less cholesterol


Researchers focused on the impact on the lipid profile of diets in which animal proteins such as meat, milk products, eggs or other alternatives were replaced by vegetable proteins. The research team at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto (Canada) reviewed 112 studies where participants ate products of plant origin such as soya, walnuts, beans, peas and lentils instead of animal products at least three times a week.


Replacement of one or two portions of protein food was found to be associated with an improvement in fat profile of about 4% in adults with and without hyperlipidemia. The three markers considered are LDL or “bad” cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, i.e. non-high density lipoproteins, and apolipoprotein B.


LDL cholesterol is the substance that accumulates along the walls of blood vessels and contributes to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Remember that atherosclerosis is the condition that increases the risk of adverse cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke and peripheral arteriopathy. Apolipoprotein B is the “accomplice” substance of bad cholesterol that helps to block arteries.



Are the benefits thanks to the fibers?


But where would this downward effect on cholesterol come from? The mechanisms could be different, as we read in the research. One mechanism would be linked to the contribution of other nutrients present in products with vegetable proteins: “These products – explains Dr. Lettino – constitutionally contain substances such as plant sterols and soluble fibers, unlike animal proteins. Fibers are known to help reduce blood cholesterol concentration. Animal proteins, on the other hand, contain saturated fats and cholesterol that favor a worsening of the individuals’ lipid profile “.


Dyslipidemia remains one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease outbreaks. However, it is a risk factor that can be modified and, through the regular supply of fruits, vegetables and legumes, a reduction in cholesterol and the accumulation of cholesterol in the walls of blood vessels can be achieved.


The ultimate goal is always the management of “bad” cholesterol and the reduction of cholesterolemia. All interventions that modify LDL cholesterol both directly and indirectly, as suggested by the research with the addition of plant proteins, have a positive effect on cardiovascular health,” concludes Dr. Lettino.

You may also like

Do not miss our advice for your health

Sign up for the weekly Humanitas Health newsletter and get updates on prevention, nutrition, lifestyle and tips to improve your lifestyle