A Protein is Not a Protein


Dietary choices are important for overall health and reduction of risk of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They have impact on quality of life and life expectancy. Just like the quality of calories we consume is not equal, it appears that it is just as important to choose the proteins in our food wisely.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine evaluated 131,000 participants over almost 30 years and came to the scientific conclusion, that the predominant consumption of animal-based protein is associated with increased cardiovascular mortality, and in contrast - consumption of plant based proteins improved cardiovascular as well as overall death rate. This is in particularly true for individuals with at least one additional risk factors like obesity, inactivity, high blood pressure, high alcohol intake and smoking.

Additionally, if animal-based protein, especially coming from processed meats was substituted with plant-based protein, there was a substantial reduction of cardiovascular risk.

However, overall healthy participants who had no risk factors for metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease as listed above (like smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, inactivity or high alcohol intake), and ate primarily animal based proteins, did not see any mortality increase from cardiovascular disease

The study did not differentiate between the sources of animal protein i.e. fish, red meet or chicken. It is therefore conceivable that separating the animal proteins more clearly by their sources, could arrive at somewhat different outcomes.

Nonetheless, recently, The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning, that high intake of red meat is associated with increased risk of cancer. As a matter of fact, it put the consumption of processed meat in the same risk category as tobacco smoking. This obviously raised a lot of discussion and controversy among health care professionals, consumer and industry.

So, choose your protein sources wisely. You do not have to ban your steak completely, but make plant based protein a high proportion in your diet for a healthy long life.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Substituting plant based protein for animal protein can reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, this study shows.


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