Should you go vegan? Is a plant-based diet better than one that includes animal protein?
Given all the conflicting information out there about what you should and should not be eating, it can be really difficult to decide which diet is the best.
According to a new study, replacing eggs and meat with nuts and lentils could add years to your life. The study, which was conducted by scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital, tracked 131,342 people over three decades.
Researchers have found that eating less protein from animal sources and increasing protein intake from plants significantly reduces death rates. The study found that for every 3 per cent rise in calories from plant proteins, deaths from all causes dropped by 10 per cent and those from heart disease dropped by 12 per cent.
In contrast, an 8 per cent rise in the risk of dying from heart disease was noted when increasing one’s intake of animal protein calories by about 10 per cent. Animal proteins include the likes of fish, eggs, meat, and dairy. Plant-based proteins include foods such as legumes, soy, beans, nuts, cereals, and bread.
When participants replaced red meat with nuts, cereals, and vegetables, there was a 32 per cent drop in death rates – the biggest drop of the study. When eggs were substituted with plant proteins, the reduction in death rates was 19 per cent.
The study also found that the link between eating animal protein was the highest among those participants who were obese, drank heavily, had a history of smoking, and did not work out regularly. This link did not exist among the healthiest participants, and researchers chalked that up to the premise that those people were probably already eating more fish, poultry, and plant proteins.
What is so important about this study? The findings support all the theories that the source of dietary protein has a direct effect on one’s health and longevity. Previous studies focused on factors such as protein intake but not where the protein came from.
Protein will have different effects on the body depending on its source. For example, animal proteins have been shown to have a negative impact on the body’s metabolism, heart disease, and a number of other illnesses. Plant protein, on the other hand, has been linked to lowering cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, and boosting insulin sensitivity.
If you go by this study, you should be eating more plant proteins than animal proteins; it might make you live longer. However, if you must eat animal proteins, it is best to stick with sources like chicken and fish rather than red meat.
If you do decide to change your diet in a drastic way, talk to your doctor and make sure you go about it properly without missing out on important nutrients.