In a study conducted by researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, it has been found that aged people who rely more on plant protein as compared to meat-based protein tend to have a longer lifespan. The study — published in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine — describes their analysis of a database from the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.
Throughout the past several years, food and health researchers have been working to distinguish between good and bad foods. The research has led to sometimes mixed findings. In this new study, the team has looked mainly at protein intake. Non-plant based protein can be found in red meat, seafood, pork, eggs, and chicken. However, it can also be found in plant-based foods, including broccoli, peanuts, oats, chia seeds, and tofu. The team wanted to know if consuming plant-based protein gave different results as opposed to eating animal-based protein.
In an attempt to find the answer, the team analyzed data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, which is known to compile information on the diet and health of people aged 50 to 71 over the last 16 years. In the database, the data of around 179,068 women and 237,036 men from several states have been complied. The average age of the individuals in the database was 62. It consists of dietary and health information for each of the individual it recorded, which allowed the team to calculate how much protein they were consuming and whether it was animal- or plant-based.
The findings of the analysis suggested that the individuals, male or female, who ingested more than average levels of plant foods, has a 5% lower rate of mortality than people who preferred animal-based foods. Additionally, they found that the more plant-based foods an individual ate, the longer was their lifespan. Besides, the individuals who swapped just 3% of animal-based foods in their diets for plant foods witnessed a 10% reduction in mortality risk.
The team of researchers also found that switching animal foods for plant foods led to reductions in heart and lung illnesses. They also found that swapping just 3% of animal-based protein foods resulted in an 11% decrease in deaths in men and 12% in women from cardiovascular diseases.