Studies have attested to the benefits of plant protein sources when it comes to everything from digestion to sustainability. Now, a new study from Japan has looked into the long-term effects of protein via plants vs protein via animal sources to reveal that the former may well be crucial to living a longer, healthier life.
The new study was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, whereby researchers from a number of Japan’s leading medical schools and facilities followed over 70,000 men and women for 18 years. The average age of participants was 55, none of whom had reported a history of cancer or cardiovascular disease at the start of the trial.
During the course of the experiment, there were 12,381 deaths. Once researchers had been adjusted for a number of physical and behavioural variables such as cigarette smoking and fat consumption, they found that compared with those who ate the least plant protein, the fifth who consumed the most had a 27% lower cardiovascular death rate and a 28% lower death rate from both heart disease and stroke. And, aside from these, all-cause mortality rate compared to those who consumed the least protein from plants turned out to be 13% lower.
“Our study suggests that plant protein may provide beneficial health effects and that replacement of red and processed meat protein with plant or fish protein may increase longevity”
Over the course of the study, the men and women who recorded replacing just 3% of red meat with plant protein became 34% less likely to die of any cause, while those who swapped 4% of their processed meat intake with plants reduced their death risk by as much as 46%.
Harvard nutrition professor Dr Frank Hu, who wasn’t involved in the study, notes that plant foods contain not just protein, but also other beneficial nutrients such as healthy fats, antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals, while diets high in red and processed meats have been associated with a wide range of health consequences such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.
Protein-rich plant foods include legumes such as nuts, lentils and chickpeas plus various leafy greens, while nutritional shakes such as ours are a convenient way to include plant-based protein in your diet to support healthier overall nutrition.