Swapping Red Meat For Mycoprotein Could Benefit Hearts And Waistlines, Study Explains

NEWCASTLE, United Kingdom — Those aiming to shed belly fat and reduce their cholesterol levels might want to consider substituting red meat with Quorn protein. Northumbria University researchers revealed participants switching up their mealtime proteins showed notable improvements in just two weeks.

The study found that participants who ate Quorn products, a popular meat alternative made from mycoprotein, experienced a significant 12-percent drop in “bad” LDL cholesterol and a seven-percent drop in total cholesterol in comparison to those who consumed red and processed meats. Additionally, participants reduced their waist size by nearly one centimeter on average over the two-week period.

Why is this significant?

A decrease in total cholesterol could potentially reduce a person’s risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, such as a stroke or coronary heart disease, by as much as nine percent. Waist size is also an indicator of cardiovascular health, suggesting that Quorn might offer benefits for heart health and body composition.

To break it down, high cholesterol often results from diets rich in saturated fats, lack of exercise, and excessive abdominal fat. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, can cause fatty deposits in arteries, leading to potential heart attacks or strokes. Currently, high LDL cholesterol accounts for 115 out of the 460 heart and circulatory disease deaths in the United Kingdom each day.

For many, medications like statins are a go-to solution to reduce cholesterol. However, there are concerns regarding the cost, especially given the recent price hike of a popular statin. Moreover, maintaining a healthy waist size is essential in preventing heart-related issues. Excess fat, especially around the abdominal region, can increase risks like coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

steaks red meat
(Credit: Gonzalo Guzman from Pexels)

“At a time when millions of people have high cholesterol and excess tummy fat, this study is the latest of several human dietary intervention trials where mycoprotein has demonstrated significant cardiovascular benefits,” says lead researcher Dr. Daniel Commane, associate professor in nutritional sciences at Northumbria University, in a university release.

“It’s important as it highlights how making a simple dietary change to consume mycoprotein can deliver impressive heart health benefits in a very short period of time, cutting the risk of a person dying from cardiovascular disease by as much as nine per cent according to some models. It also demonstrates how mycoprotein could play a key role in supporting weight loss and long-term weight management – which is hugely important when we consider the health risks of obesity and that almost two in three people in England are clinically overweight.”

Fungi-based proteins, like Quorn’s mycoprotein, are distinct from plant-based foods. Produced through fermentation, mycoprotein is a “complete protein,” known for being low in saturated fat, cholesterol-free, and a healthy protein and fiber source. It’s also recommended in the U.K. government’s healthy eating guidelines, the Eatwell Guide.

“While many millions of people have been diagnosed with raised cholesterol or high blood pressure, there are millions more who remain undiagnosed, and tackling these silent killers should remain an absolute priority,” says Tim Finnigan, scientific adviser for Quorn Foods and visiting professor at Northumbria University. “There’s a myriad of solutions to these challenges, some costing more than others, but what is clear from this research and other recent studies, is that people can make a huge difference to their heart health just by adding mycoprotein to their diet.”

The study is published in the European Journal of Nutrition.

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