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Plant-Based Protein Will Make You Live Longer, Study Says

Aug 02, 2016 03:40 AM EDT
Plant-based protein lowers risk of death, a new study found.
(Photo : forwimuwi73 / Pixabay)

Plant-based protein lowers risk of death, a new study found.

Scientists have long associated processed red meat with different chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart diseases.

But in a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that replacing animal protein with plant protein - such as cereals, whole-grain bread, legumes and nuts - can reduce the risk of death.

"While it is important to know how much protein people should consume to achieve the optimal health benefit, from a broad dietary perspective, what foods people choose to consume to get protein is equally important," Dr. Mingyang Song, researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a report by CNN.

"[Our findings] can help refine the current dietary recommendations about protein intake and really get to the point that it is not only the amount but also the food sources of protein that are critical for long-term health."

In the study, the researchers examined data from the 32-year national Nurses' Health Study and the 26-year Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The data provided an assessment of the protein intake of 131,242 adults across the U.S. through food questionnaires.

The researchers examined all-cause and cause-specific risks of death between eating animal protein and eating plant protein. They found that for every 10 percent increase in animal protein consumption, there is a 2 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 8 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers also found that the link between animal protein intake and risk of death was more noticeable among participants who smoked, drink heavy amounts of alcohol, and who were obese and physically inactive.

However, substituting even at least 3 percent of animal protein with plant protein reduced the risk of death from all causes by 10 percent and lowered risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 12 percent, the researchers said.

In the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the U.S. government recommends a diet with less saturated fat and less sodium, and more vegetables and whole grains.

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