A new study has found that a 10% increase in animal protein intake was linked to a 2% increase in overall mortality and 8% increase in risk of cardiovascular-related death, while a 3% increase in plant protein intake was linked to a 10% decrease in overall mortality and a 12% decrease in cardiovascular mortality.
The research was done by a variety of institutions in the US and Italy, including the TH Chan School of Public Health, the Department of Medicine at Harvard University, the Broad Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California and the Institute of Molecular Oncology in Italy. It analyzed data from two long-term epidemiologic studies and appears in the August 1 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study found that if you have one unhealthy lifestyle factor, such as being physically inactive, being overweight or obese, are a smoker or a heavy drinker, that your risk of death was increased by 8% with the consumption of animal protein. On the contrary, the same unhealthy lifestyle factor with the consumption of plant proteins saw a 10% lower risk of death.
"While it is important to know how much protein people should consume to achieve the optimal health benefit, from a broad dietary perspective, what foods people choose to consume to get protein is equally important," says, Dr. Mingyang Song, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
"Our findings have important public health implications," he added. "They can help refine the current dietary recommendations about protein intake and really get to the point that it is not only the amount but also the food sources of protein that are critical for long-term health."
So what are some good sources for plant protein?
- Leafy Greens like kale and arugula
- Nuts like almonds
- Whole Grains
- Legumes like chickpeas
Song M, Fung TT, Hu FB, et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 01, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182.