Posted on Apr 23, 2019, 7 p.m.
Diets rich in animal protein while being low in plant protein are not good for health; men who favored animal protein over plant protein in their diets were found to have a greater risk of death in a 20 year follow up than those who had more balanced protein sources, as published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Studies suggest high intake of animal protein and processed meats such as cold cuts and sausages are associated with an increased risk of death, but the outcomes relating to health effects of protein and different protein sources remains unclear.
Using the KIHD study research from the University of Eastern Finland analyzing dietary habits of approximately 2,600 men between the ages of 42-60 in 1984-1989 studied the mortality of the population over an average follow up of 20 years, focussing on associations of dietary protein and protein sources with mortality during the follow up, other lifestyle factors and dietary habits were controlled for including those eating majority plant based protein diets also followed a healthier diet.
Men with animal based protein as their main source were found to have 23% higher risk of death during the follow up than those with the most balance ratio of plant and animal protein. Higher intake of meat appeared to be associated with adverse effects: more than 200 grams per day had 23% greater risk than those with intakes less than 100 grams per day. Men in this study mainly consumed red meat, had a mean age of 53, and diets lacking in protein were not typical. Based on findings diets high in animal protein and low in plant protein were associated with increased risk of death.
Higher overall intake of dietary protein was associated with a greater risk of death in those who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease at the start of the study, this association was not found in those without these diseases suggesting a need to investigate health effects of protein intake in those with pre-existing chronic medical conditions. Those who consume high amounts of red and processed meats may improve their health by seeking alternative choices of protein to balance the sources.
"However, these findings should not be generalised to older people who are at a greater risk of malnutrition and whose intake of protein often remains below the recommended amount," PhD Student Heli Virtanen from the University of Eastern Finland points out.
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