Plant protein consumption and cholesterol markers


Substituting 1 to 2 servings of animal proteins with plant proteins every day could lead to a reduction in the 3 main cholesterol markers for cardiovascular disease prevention, according to new study by Dr. Sievenpiper.

The team of Dr. Sievenpiper (University of Toronto) performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of 112 randomized control trials comparing the effect of plant protein in substitution for animal protein in the diet for at least 3 weeks. In total 5 774 participants were included in this analysis. The main plant protein used in the intervention was soy protein (94 trials), the other plant protein sources included pulses, nuts, oat and seeds.

The study looked at the impact of replacing animal protein with plant protein on 3 key markers for cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL); non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) and apolipoprotein B. ApoB is an important component of many of the most atherogenic lipoprotein particles.

Dr. Sievenpiper’s review indicated that replacing 1 to 2 servings of animal proteins with plant proteins every day – primarily soy, nuts and pulses – resulted in a modest reduction (<5%) of LDL, non-HDL and apo B. “This may not sound like much, but a Westernized diet consists of little plant protein, thus there is a real opportunity here to make some small changes to our diets and realize the health benefits.

The authors further suggest that the health benefits could be even greater if people combined plant proteins with other cholesterol-lowering plant foods such as viscous, water soluble fibre from oats or barley and plant sterols.

This dietary intervention (substituting animal protein with plant protein) may have a clinically meaningful benefit in helping people to achieve lipid targets and reduce cardiovascular risk.


Li SS, Blanco MS, Lytvyn L et al. Effect of Plant Protein on Blood Lipids: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Am Heart Assoc 2017.
- Alpro Foundation

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