People who consume plant proteins are most likely to live longer and are at a lower risk of dying prematurely from cancer and heart disease, a review of 32 studies reveals.
High protein diets — specifically foods rich in plant proteins such as nuts, legumes, and whole grains — have been found to reduce the odds of having heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
However, frequently eating meats or any food high in animal proteins have been associated with various health issues.
Researchers analysed 32 studies to find out why the data in relation to different sources of proteins and death are contradictory.
The team wanted to know if eating more plant proteins or animal proteins will reduce the risk of all cause death including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
All these studies were carefully checked to ensure there were no flaws that could affect the results.
They also used mathematical models to measure the outcomes of the maximum protein intake in contrast to the minimum intake.
715,128 participants were involved with a follow-up period of about 32 years.
There was 113,039 deaths amongst participants, of which 22,303 died of cancer and 16,429 from cardiovascular disease.
Overall, high protein consumption was linked to a lower risk of early cause than low protein intake.
The study found that plant protein intake reduced the likelihood of early cause of death by 8 percent and deceased the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 12 percent.
However, there was no link between consuming animal protein and the risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The positive health outcomes of plant proteins could be due to a reduction in blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as lowering blood pressure.
The study’s authors, said:
“These findings have important public health implications as intake of plant protein can be increased relatively easily by replacing animal protein and could have a large effect on longevity.
These findings strongly support the existing dietary recommendations to increase consumption of plant proteins in the general population.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the British Medical Journal (Naghshi et al., 2020).