By LIZ HAGERMANNLEANOTEM, Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) When it comes to plant-derived proteins, it’s all about the healthiest option: vegetable gardens.
The key, say many plant-protein advocates, is to avoid high-protein foods, such as white potatoes, beans, corn and lentils, which contain a lot of protein but are high in fat.
That’s not the case for meats, dairy and eggs, which can be high in cholesterol, which could lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
But plant-foods also are high-sodium and high-carbohydrate, and there are no good alternatives.
In some cases, eating plant-containing protein supplements like whey protein isolate and soy lecithin is also an option.
But a growing number of researchers are warning that those foods are not all they’re cracked up to be, particularly if you have diabetes or high blood sugar.
The latest issue of the journal Nature Medicine is full of suggestions on how to minimize the risks of heart disease, stroke and cancer and reduce blood pressure.
“It’s not that we don’t want to eat protein, but we need to be very careful when we’re eating it,” said Jennifer Coyle, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, who co-authored a 2012 paper on plant-animal proteins.
“You need to balance protein intake with carbohydrates.”
There are also some studies suggesting that plant-meat consumption during pregnancy may reduce the risk of certain types of birth defects, including microcephaly, a rare birth defect where the head is smaller than normal and a risk factor for low birth weight.
Some of the newer research, which may not be fully tested yet, suggests plant-eating may also lower the risk for some types of cancer, which is another concern.
One major problem is that some studies have focused on plant proteins.
There are only a few plant-specific plant-oil-based protein supplements on the market, such like plant-seed or plant-bacon protein.
One supplement, Lacta, which comes from a plant called safflower, is already on the shelf, but some of the research suggests it is too low in fat to be good for pregnancy.
Lactoglobulin, which helps prevent and treat lactose intolerance, is also not a high-fat plant-to-plant supplement.
Another study, from the University at Buffalo in New York, looked at a plant-and-animal protein supplement called Saturate.
It’s the only supplement that doesn’t contain animal products.
The supplement is low in cholesterol and cholesterol-lowering agents and contains about 70 percent protein.
Researchers said there is no solid evidence that it helps prevent or treat any type of birth defect.
There is some research showing it may slow down the growth of cancer cells.
But more research is needed.
“We need more randomized controlled trials to understand whether plant-like proteins are more beneficial for pregnancy or not,” said Jessica Schulman, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a co-author of the new Nature Medicine paper.
Researchers are also studying other types of plant-related proteins, such collagen and plant-fermentable oils.
A recent study looked at plant proteins and breast cancer risk.
A protein from a type of soybean called flaxseed may lower the risks for some kinds of cancer.
The results were published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
But researchers cautioned that all of the studies they reviewed were small and that more research needed to be done to understand how plant-nutrients might work together to help prevent or even reverse certain types.
The issue is especially concerning for pregnant women who are already at high risk for heart disease or diabetes.
“People are really concerned about the heart risk in the U.S. right now,” said Dr. Nancy B. DeMaria, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“They’re also concerned about diabetes and high blood cholesterol.
The evidence is very, very weak that those are really the two biggest risk factors for heart attacks.”
She added that some of those studies were not randomized controlled and had small sample sizes.
But DeMaria said research into plant- and animal-based proteins is also necessary for the future.
“When you have this growing population, we’re in a very good place to be able to identify and identify foods that are safe and nutritious for pregnant people,” she said.
The new issue of Nature Medicine includes an analysis of a plant protein supplement, which looks at protein sources like soy lechate and plant oils and shows that it may have anti-inflammatory properties.
The study also suggests that consuming plant-made protein might help lower the chance of a stroke in women who already have one.
But it also raises questions about the long-term effects of consuming a