Swapping red meat for plants lead to longer life

Want to live longer? Take a note. Researchers have found that eating more protein from plant sources or dairy while reducing red meat consumption could help people live longer.

Higher percentage of calories from plant protein in the diet is tied to lower risk of death, the study said.

“Our findings suggest that even partial replacement of red meat with healthy, plant-based sources of protein could substantially reduce rates of coronary heart disease in the US,” said the study’s lead author Laila Al-Shaar from Harvard University.

The study was presented in a meeting at the ‘American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2020’ in the US.

According to the researchers, in the study of more than 37,000 Americans with an average age of 50, those who ate the most plant protein were 27 per cent less likely to die of any cause and 29 per cent less likely to die of coronary heart disease, compared to people who ate the least amount of plant protein.

Keeping the number of calories the participants ate consistent, the researchers were able to estimate the amount of plant protein compared to animal protein people in the study ate and compare it to the risk of dying.

They found that replacing 5 per cent of daily calories from total animal protein with the equivalent number of calories of plant protein was linked to a nearly 50 per cent decrease in the risk of dying of any cause including coronary heart disease.

The study also revealed that replacing two per cent of daily calories from processed meat protein with an equivalent number of calories from plant protein was associated with a 32 per cent lower risk of death.

Diet substitutions for red meat linked to lower heart disease risk, it added.

According to the research, substituting one serving per day of red or processed red meat with foods, such as nuts, legumes, whole grains or dairy, was associated with up to a 47 per cent lower risk of having coronary heart disease in men.

“It isn’t enough just to avoid red meat – it’s also about what you choose to eat in place of red meat. Healthy plant proteins like nuts, legumes and whole grains contain more than just protein – they include other beneficial nutrients such as healthy fats, antioxidant vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (compounds derived from plants), which have been associated with lower risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers,” said researcher Zhilei Shan.

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