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Plant protein could cut risk of early death

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A study by researchers in the US and Italy has shown that swapping animal protein in favour of plant protein can increase life expectancy.

The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, set out to examine if animal and plant proteins were linked to risk of mortality. The scientists analyzed two cohort studies – the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study – comprising over 130,000 people who were followed for 36 years.

The study found that swapping 15-19g of animal protein (equivalent to a sausage) for plant protein such as nuts, legumes or pulses significantly reduced the chance of early mortality.

A 10% higher intake of meat was linked to a 2% higher death rate and 8% higher risk of death from heart-related disease.

The researchers concluded: “High animal protein intake was positively associated with mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with mortality, especially among individuals with at least one lifestyle risk factor. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially that from processed red meat, was associated with lower mortality, suggesting the importance of protein source.”

The research can be accessed here.

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