- Substituting a portion of the animal-based proteins with plant-based proteins can lead to substantial health benefits, especially for individuals who have risk factors for heart disease.
- A research study found out that even a small shift from animal-based protein, specifically processed red meat, to plant-based protein significantly decreased the risk of early death from assorted causes. A diet high in animal protein was associated with an increased risk of death due to heart disease.
- Practical recommendations to increase plant-based protein intake include using beans as a replacement for ground beef, opting for oatmeal with chopped nuts for breakfast, topping salads with lentils, using hummus or mashed avocado on sandwiches, and trying different nut butter on whole grain bread instead of regular butter. When choosing traditional protein sources, prefer those sources not linked to premature death in studies, such as poultry and fish.
There’s no pressing need to fully switch to a vegetarian way of life to see health enhancements. Simply substituting a portion of the animal-based proteins you eat with plant-based alternatives can bring around some significant benefits.
This switch is very advantageous particularly for individuals who have even one potential risk factor for heart disease, such as obesity, inactivity, unrestriant drinking, or smoking.
Long-term Effects of Protein Types
One intriguing research study observed 30 years of data from over 131,000 participants of the milestone Nurses’ Health Study. This specific study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, juxtaposed the outcomes and effects of consuming different types of proteins.
Surprisingly, it was discovered that even a minor swap from animal-based protein, specifically processed red meat, to plant-based protein, significantly decreased the risk of early death from various causes. The more frequently this swap was made, the more profound the potential benefits seemed to be.
Conversely, the research demonstrated that a diet high in animal protein was linked to an increased risk of death due to heart disease.
Plant Protein-rich Nutritious Foods
Foods like nuts, legumes—which include beans and lentils, and whole grains are great sources of protein and can leave you feeling full. However, you don’t need to make a sudden and drastic shift in your eating habits. Doing so might be difficult to sustain in the long run. Instead, make smaller, consistent changes that you can permanently incorporate into your diet.
Some practical suggestions include using beans to replace some portion of ground beef in your recipes. Instead of a breakfast dominated by eggs or sausages, consider having oatmeal garnished with chopped nuts. When eating salads, resist the adrenaline rush to decorate it with cheese or bacon bits, instead, top your salads with lentils and apply hummus or mashed avocado on your sandwiches.
Experiment with various kinds of nut butter on whole grain bread, rather than regular butter. And when you feel like eating traditional protein sources, mostly opt for poultry and fish, which have not been linked to premature death in the study.
The Vegetarian Resource Group provides a comprehensive list of plant-based foods with the most protein and practical ways to incorporate them into your diet.