Meat-eaters may have a higher risk of death, but plants are the answer

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(CNN)Are you ready to take it easy with the burgers? A new protein-focused paper confirms that eating red meat may be linked to a higher risk of death.

However, replacing animal protein in your diet with plant protein is associated with a decreased risk of death, according to the research, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday.
    Scientists have long connected processed red meats with a wide spectrum of chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

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    “Alternatively, it is possible that other components in the foods than protein per se may be the culprit,” he added. “For example, processed red meat is high in sodium, nitrites and nitrates, which have all been linked to worse health outcomes.”
    The U.S. government’s 2015-20 dietary guidelines recommend a diet with limited saturated fat, less sodium and more vegetables and whole grains.

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    If scientists could compare individuals who consume only animal-based protein with those who consume only plant-based protein, that could provide a clearer understanding of how such diets affect the risk of mortality — but that is not how most Americans eat, said Kim Robien, associate professor of exercise and nutrition science at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, who was not involved in the new paper.
    “Most study participants ate a varied diet over the course of the observation period that included both plant and animal proteins,” Robien said of the research.

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    “The findings confirm what we have been observing from studies using different research approaches,” she added. “People who consume their dietary protein primarily from plant foods would be expected to be better able to maintain a healthy weight and have lower risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancers.”
    So then, what can you consume to replace animal protein with plant protein in your daily diet?
    “The good food sources would be whole-grain bread, cereals, nuts and legumes,” Song said. “Although we didn’t look at soy in our study because its consumption is very low in the United States, there is evidence supporting that soy may be a good protein source for health.”

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