The health impact of substituting unprocessed red meat by pulses in the Danish diet

Freja Andresen Fabricius, Sofie Theresa Thomsen, Sisse Fagt, Maarten Nauta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Diets consisting of high amounts of animal-based protein have been associated with adverse public health effects and are often deemed environmentally unsustainable. Therefore, replacing red meat by pulses has been proposed to reduce the adverse impact on human health and environment. However, unprocessed red meat is an important source of nutrients, such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc and selenium, and the substitution may have negative impact on nutrient adequacy. Using a risk-benefit assessment (RBA) approach, we, therefore, estimated the health impact of substituting unprocessed red meat by pulses on the burden of non-communicable diseases in Denmark, using Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY). Furthermore, we assessed the impact of the substitution on nutrient adequacy. We found that 187 (95% UI: 209; 168) healthy years of life could be gained per 100,000 individuals per year by substituting 100% of unprocessed red meat by pulses in the Danish diet. We found a decrease in the intake of vitamin B12, zinc and selenium due to the substitution. An additional 10% of the Danish population will become at risk of vitamin B12 and selenium inadequacy, and an additional 20% will be at risk of zinc inadequacy due to the substitution. For iron, a small decrease in the proportion at risk of inadequacy was found. Substitution of unprocessed red meat by pulses was estimated to provide a beneficial health impact on the burden of non-communicable disease, expressed in DALY. Additionally, it was found that the complete substitution will lead to a higher risk of nutrient inadequacies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Number of pages12
ISSN1436-6207
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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