Can eating plant-based protein help you live longer?

In recent years there has been a lot of debate on which is the best source of protein, animal or plant-based. Since protein is one of the three macronutrients (for more information click here) and it is responsible for creating blood, skin, bones, cartilage and of course building muscle; clearly it is vital that we consume daily adequate amounts of protein. With the continued attention and growth of consumers eating more and more plant-based protein; we must rely on scientists and the medical community to conduct numerous research studies on plant-based protein to give us the answers to this important question.

Surprising findings published in August 2019 in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)

The study JAMA published in August 2019 specifically addressed the question, will eating plant-base sources of protein help us live longer? The study was conducted with the participation of 70,000 men and woman aged 45 to 74 living in Japan. The participants had no previous history of cancer, heart disease or stroke and they completed detailed diet questionnaires at the start of the study and again every five years over the 18 year duration of the study. Note, the study by still be in progress but after 18 years these are the results so far.

Researchers found there is “no” clear association between animal protein and living longer. Also, it is important to note that in Japan, unlike the United States, their sources of protein come primarily from fish, not beef, chicken or pork.

The surprising conclusions came when researchers confirmed that participates who got their protein from plant-based sources like grains, soy products and vegetables; all had a lower rates of death compared with those who ate smaller amounts of plant-based protein and higher amounts of animal protein.

Even more exciting was the discovery that substituting animal protein with plant-base protein was linked to a lower risk of dying from heart disease or cancer.

While there are many studies currently in process and more results to come, it is certainly worth noting this 18-year long study seems to confirm what so many other already published studies are telling us; that plant-base protein (and a plant-based diet) prevents heart disease, stroke and cancer which are the leading causes of death in the United States.

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