Why you should eat your beans, nuts and tofu: a diet high in vegetable proteins reduces the risk of death, study suggests
- Japanese researchers followed the diet of 70,696 people for 18 years
- Those who received more protein from plants than meat lived longer
- A high vegetable protein diet was also linked to better overall health for longer
- People who were with red meat did not have a higher risk of death – but switching to more vegetable proteins prolonged their lives and improved their health
Switching to a high-protein vegetarian diet can help you live longer and stay healthier in your twilight years, new research suggests.
Scientists from the Japanese Center for Public Health Sciences followed nearly 70,696 Japanese adults for nearly 20 years and discovered that those who took most of their dietary protein from vegetable foods had a lower risk of dying from any cause.
Western diets are usually rich in red meat and processed foods, and Westerners die from high rates of heart disease and obesity-related illnesses.
The authors of the new study suggest that swapping steak for protein-rich vegetable foods such as tofu, beans, tempeh, edamame, and quinoa could even reduce the risk of death.
Protein-rich diets have been shown to encourage weight loss, but meat can increase the risk of heart disease. New research suggests that switching to plant-based proteins reduces the risk of death
In recent years, protein-rich diets have become popular because they can reduce appetite by making you feel full and can lead to fairly rapid weight loss.
Like the keto diet praised by Kim Kardashian West and LeBron James, high-protein diets help you release water, water weight, and ketosis, a physical state in which the body uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
It certainly works for many people – but doctors and nutritionists are afraid that in the long run it might not be a sustainable or healthy way of eating.
First, eating so many proteins and so few carbohydrates can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
In the US in particular, meat is the most obvious protein-rich food, in particular red meat.
But studies suggest that meat protein can be harmful to our health in other ways.
Red and processed meat contains saturated fats that accumulate in the blood vessels, narrow them and emphasize the cardiovascular and cardiovascular system.
So while a high-protein diet can be good for weight loss and muscle development, it can harm your heart if meat is the main source of that protein.
But the long-term effects of these diets compared to others are not well understood.
In Japan, foods such as tofu and beans are rarer sources of protein than in the US and other Western countries.
So scientists in Japan have studied the long-term differences in death risks for people who eat a lot of vegetable proteins and people who get more of the nutrients from vegetable foods.
For an average of 20 years they followed their sample of more than 70,500 people.
They kept track of the diseases the group developed and died during those two decades.
Although those who ate a diet high in animal protein did not have a greater than average risk of dying, people with more vegetable protein had a considerably lower than average risk of death.
Because processed and red meat is the most unhealthy, the research team subsequently analyzed how the death risks of people could shift if they switched from animal to vegetable proteins.
Switching from red or processed meat to vegetable, fruit and grain proteins was associated with a lower risk of dying from cancer, in particular, as well as death from any cause.
Leaving red meat proteins has also endangered the risk of people dying of heart disease, in addition to reducing overall and cancer-related mortality.