Globally, as well as in the US, poor diet is recognised as a leading risk for illness, disability and death. Diets that reduce the burden of chronic disease are becoming a greater focus of research and public health policies.

DuPont Nutrition & Health contributed its voice to a recent journal article published in the American Society for Nutrition’s Current Developments in Nutrition. The article appears in the November 2017 edition of the publication and presents the latest evidence supporting the role of plant-based sources as part of a healthy dietary pattern for cardiometabolic health. The complete article can be viewed here.

Senior author of the article, Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., and past member of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee said, "Today, dietary guidance policies are moving away from nutrient-based recommendations and toward dietary pattern-based recommendations in many countries, including the U.S. Recommendations have shifted more toward dietary patterns emphasizing plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, soy products and vegetable oils based on the strong evidence for support of cardiometabolic health that surrounds these sources."

"A diet that shifts to include more plant sources for support of health can still include moderate amounts of dairy and other animal sources of protein," said Ratna Mukherjea, technical senior manager, DuPont Nutrition & Health. "In fact, many countries are recognizing the importance of a variety of high-quality protein sources, including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products in dietary guidance policies."

Substantial excitement exists in the food industry to deliver foods that support health while meeting consumer expectations for taste. This paper reviews the available evidence that demonstrates improving intake patterns to align with dietary guidelines should be the focus of our efforts, collectively.

Evidence suggests that higher intake of plant-based foods is associated with lower risk of cardiometabolic disease, whereas a higher meat intake increases risk of cardiometabolic disease, and replacement of small quantities of animal protein with plant protein is associated with lower risk.

Consumers appear to be taking note of dietary recommendations emphasizing plant-based foods. In its "Plant-Based Eating Trends" study, published earlier this year, Health Focus International reported that 54 percent of consumers surveyed globally indicated they were reducing their consumption of animal-based foods and increasing consumption of plant-based foods. Consumers’ perception that plant-based foods are healthier than animal-based foods was identified in the study as a key driver of this shift.

"The evidence presented in this paper reminds us that rather than engaging in debates about whether diets should be exclusively plant-based or include animal, the focus should be consumption of foods in recommended amounts to support cardiometabolic disease prevention," said Michael Flock, Ph.D., Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute, University of Pittsburgh.

Many foods available in the marketplace are composed of not just a single source of protein, of plant or animal origin, but rather a blend of proteins. Blending different sources can enable the creation of foods that are advantageous from an amino acid composition or digestibility point-of-view. And food scientists have learned and appreciate that formulating a product with a blend of proteins can lead to a better taste profile.

The review was conducted by researchers who are past members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, their colleagues and scientists with DuPont Nutrition & Health.