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New study reveals best types of protein to eat to prevent early death

Monday 8th August 2016
Plant-based proteins have been proven to be better for health than animal-based proteins in a new study. Image: celsopupo via iStock
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Plant-based proteins are a healthier option than animal-based proteins and could help to prevent early death, a new study has suggested.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School set out to explore the full effects of eating red meat on people's health and found that the proteins naturally present in this type of meat may lead to premature death.

This conclusion was reached following the analysis of a variety of previous dietary studies, featuring data relating to more than 131,000 people in total. Of these, 64.7 per cent were female and the average age of participants was 49.

Following this analysis, it could be seen that the risk of someone dying prematurely increased by two per cent for every ten per cent increase in animal protein consumption. Meanwhile, their risk of dying from heart disease also rose by eight per cent.

In contrast, eating a greater level of protein from plant-based foods decreased the risk of early death by an average of ten per cent. In fact, just a three per cent increase in consumption of natural foodstuffs was found to lower a person's risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 12 per cent.

The researchers explained: "Although substituting plant foods for various animal foods was associated with a lower mortality, red meat - especially processed red meat - showed a much stronger association than fish and poultry, which themselves were not associated with mortality."

What's more, the investigation led to the discovery that people who smoke, drank, were overweight or obese and did little to no exercise were still more likely to live longer than their processed red meat-eating counterparts if they increased their consumption of plant-based proteins.

With this in mind, dieticians may wish to advise patients to consume more plant-based foods in order to prevent an early death.

The study authors concluded: "Substitution of plant protein for animal protein ... may confer substantial health benefit. Therefore, public health recommendations should focus on improvement of public sources."

Written by Martin Lambert

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