Meat Free Week may have started, but it’s not too late to sign up for the Meat Free Week challenge and findings from a study released this week may provide the incentive you’ve been looking for!
Research out of the United States suggests plant-based protein is better than animal-based protein for health, showing a higher risk of death accompanies the consumption of animal protein, compared with eating plant-based protein.
The study was conducted by Dr Mingyang Song and her colleagues from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The researchers pointed out that protein sources "inevitably influence other components of diet, including macronutrients, micronutrients, and phytochemicals, that can in turn influence health outcomes."
Therefore, it is critically important to account for food sources in order to better understand the health effects of different types of protein.
Dr Song and colleagues decided to investigate further, looking at data from two large studies in the United States that used repeated measures of diet through food questionnaires as well as 32 years of follow-up.
In total, there were 131,342 study participants, 64.7 percent of whom were women; the average participant age was 49.
Interestingly, eating more plant protein was linked with a 10 per cent lower risk of death from all causes for every 3 percent segment of total calories and a 12 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Commenting on their findings, the researchers wrote:
"Although substituting plant foods for various animal foods was associated with a lower mortality, red meat, especially processed red meat, showed a much stronger association than fish and poultry, which themselves were not associated with mortality."
The researchers also discovered that substituting just 3 per cent of calories from animal protein with plant protein was linked with a lower risk of death from all causes.
"Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially from processed red meat, may confer substantial health benefit," they concluded. "Therefore, public health recommendations should focus on improvement of protein sources."
Join the many Australians trying out meat-free protein alternatives this week, check out some delicious meat-free recipes and sign up to the . We’d love your support!
Song M, Fung TT, Hu FB, et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 01, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182.