- Transitioning from animal to plant protein can decrease the risk of premature death by 10% for each 3% of a person’s daily caloric intake, according to new research.
- The beneficial outcomes were most notable when plant protein replaced eggs or red meat. There was a 24% and 21% reduced risk in men and women respectively for eggs, and a 13% drop in risk in men, 15% decrease in women for red meat.
- It’s important to replace red meat with healthy alternatives like whole grains or cereals, not sugar-sweetened beverages or other less beneficial foods, to achieve the protective association for overall mortality.
- Animal-based proteins generally contain higher levels of less beneficial nutrients like saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, while plant proteins are rich in beneficial nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Although the study relies on people’s memory recall, a recurring pattern indicated a reduced risk of premature mortality with increased plant protein intake.
Redefining your breakfast with tofu instead of eggs or substituting beans in your chili for ground meat might contribute to your longevity; new research has found. It seems that garnering your daily protein from plant sources rather than animal-based ones can decrease your likelihood of premature death.
For each 3% of a person’s daily caloric intake transitioning from animal to plant protein, the risk of an early death was seen to reduce by 10%, the study revealed.
Reaping Better Health Outcomes with Plant Protein
The beneficial outcomes were most resounding when people replaced plant protein for eggs (24% and 21% reduced risk in men and women respectively) or red meat (13% drop in risk in men, 15% decrease in women).
Making Smart Diet Swaps for Longevity
It’s advantageous to remove red meat from your meals but it’s critical to replace it with a healthy alternative, explained the study’s lead author Jiaqi Huang. Huang is a postdoctoral researcher at the U.S. National Cancer Institute and said, “For example, substituting 3% energy from egg protein or red meat protein with plant protein such as whole grains or cereals indicated a protective association for overall mortality.” However, replacing the same 3% energy from egg or red meat protein with other foods like sugar-sweetened beverages may not result in a reduction in mortality.
Study Findings and Consideration
In this research, Huang’s team meticulously analyzed dietary data from over 237,000 men and 179,000 women collected from 1995 to 2011 as part of a comprehensive long-term study examining diet and health relationships.
Protein made up approximately 15% of people’s daily food intake, of which 40% came from plant sources, while 60% was derived from animals.
Throughout the 16-year follow-up, a recurring pattern indicated a reduced risk of premature mortality with increased plant protein intake.
Benefits of Shifting to Plant Proteins
There are many justifications for choosing plant protein over animal protein in terms of prolonging your life, as per the researchers and experts.
Animal-based protein generally contains higher levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and other less beneficial nutrients, explained Connie Diekman, a food and nutrition consultant based in St. Louis.
In comparison, plant proteins come laden with ample fibers, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, explained Kayla Jaeckel, a registered dietitian, and diabetes care manager.
The research team further postulated that the amino acids formed from the breakdown of animal-based proteins might induce arterial hardening or lead to inflammation. Animal protein could also affect gut bacteria health.
However, it’s important to keep in mind one limitation of the study: it relies on people’s memory recall, as they had to recall and fill out their dietary intake in a questionnaire, Diekman pointed out.
It’s also worth noting that the new findings counter other recent studies indicating eggs are healthier than previously thought, Jaeckel said.
A Balanced Approach to Dietary Choices
Diekman concluded by emphasizing the importance of a balanced approach suggesting that we can still enjoy our favorite, heavy egg or meat dishes, but moderation and plant-based foods should go hand in hand.
Sources for More Information
The American Heart Association provides more resources on healthy eating.