It seems that consuming protein through plants can play a role in living longer compared to the amount of protein that a person gets from consuming animals.
As stated in the recent findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine, mortality is inversely linked to high protein intake from plants compared to high animal protein intake. Researches have reported that substituting plant protein for animal protein can result in a lot of health benefits for human beings. This is true for individuals who are already suffering from unhealthy medical conditions and behaviors.
In the current research the effect of protein sources on a macronutritionally balanced diet was observed. The relationship of plant and animal protein intake with mortality risk was studied. A total of 131,342 volunteers were part of the study. They were asked about how often they consumed different food items at a standardized portion size. The sources of protein from animals included eggs, fish, poultry, red meat, and dairy products. The sources of protein from plants included legumes, beans, nuts, pasta, and even bread. The participants were from the Nurse’s Healthy Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.
The observations showed that the median protein intake for animal protein was 14% (5th to 95th percentile, 9%-22%) while it was 4% for plant protein (5th to 95th percentile, 2%-6%). The assessment took into account percentage of energy. Animal protein was shown to be slightly related to higher mortality rates in humans. It showed a hazard ratio of 1.08 per 10% energy increment (95% CI, 1.01-1.16; P=.04). This result was observed after factoring in the dietary and lifestyle risk factors.
Compared to animal protein the plant protein intake was linked to lower mortality in human beings. It showed a hazard ratio of 0.9 per 3% energy increment (95% CI, 0.86-0.95, P<.001).
It should be noted that the current findings were only confined to volunteers who had at least one unhealthy lifestyle factor which included smoking, being obese or overweight, not being physically active, or consuming too much alcohol, etc. The current links were not seen in volunteers who didn’t have these risk factors.
According to Mingyang Song, MD, ScD, for the clinical and translational epidemiology unit in the division of gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and her colleagues, “Defining what represents a macronutritionally balanced diet remains an open question and a high priority in nutrition research. To date, data examining protein sources in relation to mortality are sparse. Therefore, we used data to prospectively examine animal protein vs plant protein in relation to the risk for all-cause and cause-specific mortality and to perform an isocaloric substitution analysis for a variety of food sources of protein.”
They further went on to say that, “Although short-term randomized clinical trials have shown a beneficial effect of high protein intake, the long-term health consequences of protein intake remain controversial. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially from processed red meat, may confer a substantial health benefit. Therefore, public health recommendations should focus on improvement of protein sources.”
As noted by Song and her colleagues more research is still required to see the long-term health consequences of protein consumption. Let’s see if people actually begin to substitute plant protein for animal protein as they become aware of these current findings.