The Abundance Of Vegetable Protein In The Diet Has A Positive Effect On Life Expectancy

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The Abundance Of Vegetable Protein In The Diet Has A Positive Effect On Life Expectancy
The Abundance Of Vegetable Protein In The Diet Has A Positive Effect On Life Expectancy

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The abundance of vegetable protein in the diet has a positive effect on life expectancy

People who consume more plant-based protein may live longer than those who get more protein from meat, according to a study in Japan. Replacing only 3% of the red meat in the diet with plant-based protein reduces the risk of death from cancer by 39% and from heart disease by 42%.

The abundance of vegetable protein in the diet has a positive effect on life expectancy
The abundance of vegetable protein in the diet has a positive effect on life expectancy

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People who consume more plant-based protein may live longer than those who get more protein from meat, according to a study in Japan. Animal proteins do not appear to affect lifespan. The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The authors of the work followed nearly 71,000 middle-aged Japanese adults over two decades. Compared to people who ate the least amount of vegetable protein, those who ate the most such protein were 13% less likely to die during the study and 16% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

“Earlier studies have shown that high consumption of animal protein is associated with an increase in chronic disease and increased mortality, while frequent consumption of vegetable protein is associated with a decrease in these risks. However, most of the observations were carried out in Western countries, where the consumption of animal protein is significantly higher than vegetable protein,”said Dr. Frank Hu, who was not involved in the study, head of the department of nutrition at Harvard Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“In this Japanese study, the consumption of plant protein is quite high and the consumption of animal protein is low compared to that in Western countries,” Hu also said.

During the observation, 12,381 people died. Of these, 5055 - from cancer, 3025 - from cardiovascular diseases, 1528 - from heart disease and 1198 - from cerebral circulation disorders.

People who replaced only 3% of red meat with vegetable protein in the diet during the study died 34% less often, 39% less likely to die from cancer and 42% less often from heart disease.

Those who replaced 4% of meat products with vegetable protein died 46% less often and 50% less often from cancer.

“When people eat more plant-based protein foods such as nuts, soy and lentils, cardiovascular risk factors such as being overweight, high blood pressure and high blood lipids are significantly reduced,” Hu said.

In addition, plant foods contain not only protein, but also other beneficial nutrients: so-called good fats, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. On the other hand, diets high in red meat and meat products are associated with a wide range of negative health effects such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.

The study was not a controlled experiment designed to prove whether the amount or type of protein people consume can directly affect their lifespan. Moreover, the observation had a limitation. Study co-author Nori Sawada of the Tokyo National Cancer Center admits that the participants' diet, which was assessed only once at the beginning of the study, may well have changed over time.

Despite this, however, Dr. Hu concludes, “To live longer, you need to swap out red meat for healthy plant proteins such as nuts, lentils and whole grains. These foods are healthier.”

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