A study conducted at the University of Helsinki, known as the BeanMan study, aimed to explore the effects of replacing red and processed meat with plant-based dietary products derived from peas and faba beans on amino acid intake and bone metabolism. The study involved 102 Finnish men who followed a specific diet for six weeks.

The participants were divided into two groups:

  1. The first group consumed 760 grams of red and processed meat per week, which made up 25% of their total protein intake. This amount represented the average protein consumption of Finnish men.
  2. The second group consumed food products based on legumes, primarily peas and faba beans, accounting for 20% of their total protein intake. Additionally, this group consumed the upper limit of red and processed meat recommended by the Planetary Health Diet (200 grams or 5% of total protein intake).

Throughout the study, participants were allowed to maintain their regular diet except for the specific meat and legume products provided by the study.

“Decreasing the consumption of red and processed meat in the diet to the upper limit of the Planetary Health Diet while increasing the consumption of legumes cultivated in Finland, such as peas and faba beans, is safe from the perspective of protein nutrition. Similarly, bone health is not compromised by such a dietary change either,” states Docent Suvi Itkonen from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.

The researchers did not identify any significant differences in bone formation or resorption markers between the two dietary groups. Calcium and vitamin D intake were consistent between the groups and aligned with dietary recommendations. Both groups met the recommended intakes of essential amino acids and protein. These findings suggest that replacing meat with legume-based products can sustain adequate amino acid intake without adversely affecting bone metabolism.

“Reducing read meat consumption is extremely important in terms of environmental impact,” Itkonen notes.

“In this study, the subjects consumed dairy products as in their habitual diets, thus their calcium and vitamin D intakes were unchanged. However, in terms of bone health, it is important to bear in mind that if one reduces the amount of dairy in the diet, it is necessary to ensure the intake of calcium and vitamin D from other sources. These sources can be plant-based beverages and yoghurt-like products fortified with those nutrients or, when necessary, dietary supplements,” Itkonen mentions.

The popularity of plant-based diets is on the rise, and the updated Nordic Nutrition Recommendations also stress the importance of reducing meat consumption and moderating dairy consumption. The BeanMan study contributes to this trend by providing insights into the positive impact of plant-based dietary choices on amino acid intake and bone health. The study also has additional findings related to aspects such as lipid metabolism, gut health, and nutrient intake, which will be published separately.


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.

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