BOSTON (Reuters): A Japanese study has suggested that people who eat more plant-based protein may live longer than those who get more protein from meat.
Researchers followed almost 71,000 middle-aged Japanese adults for an average of almost two decades.
Participants who consumed the largest amount of plant protein were 13 percent less likely to die during the study and 16 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular causes.
Head of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Dr. Frank Hu said, “Previous studies have found higher consumption of animal protein is associated with increased chronic diseases and mortality, whereas higher consumption of plant protein is associated with lower risk.”
He added that most of these studies were conducted in Western populations, in which the consumption of animal protein is much higher than plant protein.
According to Hu, in this Japanese study, consumption of plant protein is quite high, whereas the consumption of animal protein is quite low compared to that in Western populations.
Overall in the study, 12,381 people died, including 5,055 fatalities from cancer, 3,025 from cardiovascular disease, 1,528 from heart disease, and 1,198 due to cerebrovascular disease.
People who replaced just 3 percent of red meat with plant protein were 34 percent less likely to die of any cause, 39 percent less likely to die of cancer, and 42 percent less likely to die of heart disease as per the study.
People who replaced just 4 percent of processed meat in their diet with plant protein were 46 percent less likely to die of any cause and 50 percent less likely to die of cancer.
Hu said, “When individuals eat more plant protein foods such as nuts, soy, and lentils, there is a significant improvement in cardiovascular risk factors such as blood lipids, blood pressure, and body weight.”
The current study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how the amount or type of protein people consume might directly impact their longevity.
Researchers believe plant proteins are good for your body. Studies suggest that when people replace some of the meat with plant proteins, it has a positive impact on longevity, reduces the risk of diabetes and heart diseases, promotes a healthier weight, and may even cause a healthy shift in your gut bacteria.