A new study has been published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing the health benefits of plant protein.
The study analysed a large group of people’s diet and their risk of mortality (death) over a period of 32 years.
They found that people who ate more plant based protein had a lower risk of death. They also found that by replacing protein from meat sources with protein from plant sources risk of death could be cut by as much as 34%! This largest reduction in risk came from reducing intake of red processed meat (e.g. sausages & burgers).
Interestingly this study found that people who ate the highest amounts of meat protein were more likely to be heavier, less physically active, have higher intakes of saturated fat and lower intakes of fibre. People with high intakes of meat protein also had higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
As you may expect people who ate more plant protein had healthier diets and lifestyles. It seems our sources of protein (whether plant or meat) can be a marker of a healthy diet, this is because we need to consider which other nutrients come ‘packaged’ with the protein. For example, plant based protein is often packaged with fibre, vitamins, minerals and low levels of fat. Whereas, red meat protein is packaged with saturated fat, sodium and nitrates.
The authors of this study concluded:
‘Public health recommendations should focus on improvement of protein sources.’
This means increasing intake of plant based proteins, and cutting down on meat protein especially processed and red meat.
This study provides more convincing evidence that we should all be focusing on a plant based diet for our future health and happiness.
For tips on how to make your diet more plant based click here to see our blog post on the topic.
To read the study in full on JAMA’s website click here.
Reference: Song M, et al. Association of animal and plant protein intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine 2016.