Study: plant based eating habits lead to healthier life

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You might want to lay off the burgers once you hear what a new study finds when comparing meat eaters with those who eat more plant-based proteins.

When you take a look at your plate, where is your protein coming from? Animal sources or plant sources?

"People should not only care about how much protein they consume, but also pay attention to what kind of food they consume to gather the protein," says Andrew T. Chan, MD.

Doctors looked at how animal- and plant-based protein sources influence long-term health. They looked at more than 131,000 adults participating in two long-running, national health studies. Participants provided 25 to 30 years of detailed information on diet, lifestyle and medical conditions and found those getting more protein from plant sources were a little healthier.

"Individuals that consumed the highest amounts of animal based proteins had a somewhat higher risk of mortality, in particular, cardiovascular mortality," says Mingyang Song, MD.

"This association is stronger among people with unhealthy lifestyle factors," said Chan.

So smoking, heavy alcohol use, obesity and physical inactivity added to the risk of death.

"Some of the association between unhealthy lifestyle and animal protein may be driven primarily by the fact that these people tended to consume more red and processed meat than fish or chicken," says Song.

The study in JAMA Internal Medicine finds that the more plant protein in a diet lead to a lower mortality risk.

"Clearly, over the long-term a diet which is comprised of primarily plant-based proteins tends to be more favorable for longevity than someone who consumes most of their protein from animal sources," Song said.

The protein from plant sources - breads, cereals, pasta, beans, nuts and legumes - was associated with a lower mortality rate.