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  1. Guertin, Emily MS, RD


Plant-based diets have been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, but the typical American diet is predominantly animal based. Exchanging higher-fat, animal-based proteins with vegetable-based proteins may help Americans consume more plant-based diets. This article presents 4 hypothetical dietary patterns, based on MyPyramid, that vary the proportion of meat and legumes (including dry beans and peas and soy products). The amount of legumes in the patterns varies from 0 to 16 MyPyramid ounce-equivalents, whereas the amount of meat concurrently decreases from 21.5 to 5.5 oz per week. Nutrient calculation analyses on 7-day menus found that each 5.5 oz meat replaced with an equivalent amount of legumes was associated with a 7% decrease in cholesterol and lowered saturated fat, whereas key nutrients remained within recommended levels.