We know protein is essential for our body and good health. But did you know the food source of protein is just as essential?
A scientific paper on protein intake relating to protein sources—led by author Dr. Mingyang Song, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—in JAMA Internal Medicine casts new light. The study proves that plant proteins are superior to animal proteins for our long-term health.
Isn’t it the amount that counts?
The proper amount of protein in our diet is important, true. Fortunately, the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 reports that Americans’ protein intake is close to the recommended amount. However, the guidelines recommend a shift toward consuming a wider variety of protein sources that include nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Because most of us consume both animal and plant proteins, making a direct scientific comparison between the effects of both is tricky. Even so, the study’s findings, based on two Harvard protein-intake studies over a 32-year period, point in favor of plant sources.
Why is plant protein better?
First, it’s no secret that meat-eating has long been linked to such chronic illnesses as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The study reveals that meat (especially red processed meat) actually increases the risk for disease and death. A 10% increase in animal-protein intake was associated with a 2% increase in overall mortality, with an 8% increased risk for cardiovascular-related death. Contributing factors may include meat’s higher levels of “insulin-like growth factor 1” (a protein-based hormone), sodium, nitrites, and nitrates—all linked to poorer health.
Compare plant protein: Even just a 3% increase in its intake was associated with a 10% decrease in overall mortality, with a 12% decrease in cardiovascular mortality. Add to that its links to the benefits of lower blood pressure and, as Song says, “insulin sensitivity.”
Won’t it take tons of veggies to get enough?
No need to drown in a sea of salads! You might be surprised how many plant sources provide high levels of protein, not to mention vitamins and minerals. Spinach, peas, collard greens, kale, and broccoli are five protein-packed veggies. Veestro incorporates these and other plant-protein-rich foods into menu items like the Protein Power Pack meals and Johnny Appleseed juice. So, getting enough protein from the best sources is easy. And it’s nice to know that science continues to support our belief in a plant-based diet.
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Meat-Eaters May Have a Higher Risk of Death, but Plants Are the Answer