Eat more plant-based proteins to boost longevity

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Published: November, 2020

If you'd like to try a vegan diet but can't imagine nixing all animal products, consider two recent findings. One, published online July 22, 2020, by The BMJ, comes from researchers at Harvard and Tehran University. They analyzed 32 studies about protein intake that included more than 715,000 people, with follow-up periods ranging from three-and-a-half years to over three decades. Combining data from multiple studies, the researchers calculated that getting 3% more of total calories in the form of plant protein (like beans, nuts, and whole grains) lowered people's risk for premature death by 5%. Another study, published online July 13, 2020, by JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at the survival rates of more than 416,000 people who'd reported their diet and lifestyle information 16 years earlier (when they were 50 to 71 years old). In this study, shifting just 3% of calorie intake from animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products) to plant protein corresponded with a 10% decrease in death from any cause over that period, for both men and women. In particular, replacing eggs and red meat with plant proteins appeared to reduce death risk by as much as 24% in men and 21% in women — especially in people with high intake of eggs and red meat. The new findings don't prove that favoring plant-based proteins will add years to your life, but many other studies have associated high intakes of red and processed meats with shorter life span.

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