Switching to vegetable protein lowers the risk of death
Many people who want to pay special attention to their figure eat as few carbohydrates as possible and therefore increase the protein content on their diet. However, it has so far been controversial whether vegetable and animal proteins have the same effect. In an investigation, US scientists have now found that vegetable protein protects health.
Increased life expectancy of vegetarians
No question: Meat-free diet is healthy: only recently scientists reported in the journal "The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association" about an increased life expectancy of vegetarians. They live almost four years longer than meat consumers. US researchers have now also found that plant-based foods are healthier. According to her, the consumption of animal proteins increases the risk of death.
Influence of proteins in food
Previous studies have mostly examined how the total proportion of proteins in food affects health. But the scientists led by Mingyang Song from Harvard Medical School in Boston (Massachusetts / USA) wanted to break down the influence of proteins in food in more detail. "Our goal was to understand how animal and vegetable proteins relate to mortality."
Intake of animal proteins increases the risk of death
The scientists were able to draw on information from over 130,000 Americans from around 30 years. “We used the data from two ongoing cohort studies. In these two studies, participants are regularly asked about their lifestyle; also every four years on their eating habits. We combined this data with the health data of the participants and thus examined the relationship between protein intake and mortality. ”The evaluation showed that the intake of animal proteins was associated with a higher risk of death than that of vegetable proteins.
The researchers have now published their results in the specialist magazine "JAMA Internal Medicine". Song, a research assistant at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), said in a clinic announcement: "While previous studies have primarily focused on total protein intake," our results also have "public health implications."
Recommendations for protein intake
They can help “refine current recommendations for protein intake, especially considering that not only the amount of protein is important, but also the specific food sources that are critical to long-term health.”
Earlier studies had shown that replacing carbohydrates with proteins was healthy. In the current study, the main sources of animal protein were processed and unprocessed beef and pork, chicken, dairy, fish and eggs. The vegetable protein came mainly from bread, cereals, pasta, nuts, beans and legumes.
Data from two long-term studies evaluated
To arrive at their results, the researchers used data from two long-term studies that recorded the health and eating habits of healthcare professionals. A total of 85,013 women and 46,329 men were evaluated. The data came from 1980 to 2012.
Every two years, the test subjects had to use a questionnaire to report on their lifestyle and health, and every four years they had to report in detail on the foods they ate on average. During the investigation period, 36,115 of the participants died, 8,851 from cardiovascular diseases, 13,159 from cancer and 14,105 from other causes.
Pronounced relationship among overweight people and alcohol users
During the evaluation, the scientists found a relationship between the amount of animal protein consumed and the risk of death. According to the information, the connection was particularly pronounced in overweight people and in people who drank a lot of alcohol. The experts also calculated how the increase and decrease in animal and vegetable proteins in the diet affects the risk of death.
"When we took lifestyle differences into account, it became clear that this connection between proteins and mortality only applies to people who live unhealthily," said Song. Accordingly, after adjusting for lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity, the risk of death was increased by two percent if the proportion of animal protein increased by ten percent in relation to the total calorie intake.
The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease increases by as much as eight percent. In contrast, the risk of death is reduced by ten percent if three percent more vegetable protein is included in the diet.
Fish and chicken are better choices
The relationship became even clearer when animal proteins were partially replaced by vegetable ones. The conversion of processed beef and pork such as sausages and eggs to vegetable proteins was particularly worthwhile. "Our results suggest that people should consider eating more vegetable proteins, and if you choose animal protein sources, fish and chicken are probably better choices," Song said.
"Health risk when eating meat"
According to a report by the APA news agency, the study result for Heiner Boeing from the German Institute for Nutritional Research in Potsdam-Rehbrücke is not surprising. This confirms the research with long-term data in which his institute is involved.
"Two well-known long-term studies represent the basics and the statistical analysis and evaluation have been carried out very carefully," said Boeing. "The study shows that plants are a very good source of protein and that, in addition to the ecological problems of meat production, there is also a health risk associated with meat consumption."
High protein intake for weight loss
Bernhard Watzl from the Max Rubner Institute, Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food in Karlsruhe also considers the underlying surveys to be “scientifically very well done”, but it is questionable whether the results are transferable to the general population, since all subjects in the medical environment are employed. “At the moment, some experts recommend a high protein intake, among other things as a measure for weight loss. However, the long-term effects of such a diet are not known. ”The study now gives important indications of health differences between the different protein sources.
More and more vegetarian foods on offer
The market share of meatless foods continues to increase: vegan or vegetarian foods are taking up more and more space on the shelves of German supermarkets. "The market is booming and there is no end in sight," says the Cologne Institute for Trade Research (IFH). But not only vegetarians and vegans buy the meatless products. "The real bearers of the veggie boom in Germany" are the so-called flexitarians, according to the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK). Years ago, around ten percent of Germans were classified as flexitarians.
The last generation that has meat on the table every day
Meat consumption has generally declined among many consumers in recent years. The health aspect is often in the foreground. A meat-rich diet, for example, leads to an increase in the formation of uric acid in the body, which in the long term can lead to kidney stones or gout in some people. Studies also indicated that excessive red meat consumption increased the risk of developing colon cancer or heart attack.
Meanwhile, more and more sausage and meat products producers are discovering the market for themselves and expanding their product range with meatless variations. According to APA, the owner of the sausage manufacturer Rügenwalder, Christian Rauffuss, said: "We will probably be the first and last generation to have meat on our plates every day." (Ad)