Plant-Based protein versus Animal protein is probably the biggest debate in the nutrition world. Opinions have varied from doctors, nutritionists and health coaches. Myths around plant-based protein have been circulating for years; “can you eat enough protein on a plant-based diet?” “can you grow muscles on a plant-based diet?” One very interesting recent study tackled this issue with numbers that cannot be ignored. Not only does the study tackle the issue of plant-based protein, they suggest that plant-based protein could have a significant role in mortality rates.
Animal-based protein includes; chicken, beef, turkey, fish, milk, cheese and yogurt whereas plant-based protein sources include; beans, lentils, nuts, spinach, mushrooms, and seeds.
In the largest study ever conducted comparing animal protein sources and plant-based sources, examining around 130 000 participants over a time period of 32 years. The study assessed the relationship between the source of protein (plant-based or animal-based) with mortality in adults. The results of the study found that high intake of animal protein is positively associated with mortality. While replacing animal protein with plant protein was associated with lower mortality.
This raises awareness and questions the source of protein and not just the quantity. People, especially athletes, are usually concerned with the amount of protein they consume in a day; the type of protein they consume comes second to that. The findings of this study bring awareness to the fact that the type of protein you consume is directly related to mortality rates; meaning the type of protein you consume should be number one on your priority list.
The results of the study showed that choosing a plant-based protein source instead of animal protein would greatly affect the chances of cardiovascular disease deaths. The study also shed light on the association between cancer deaths and protein sources; findings showed that switching from eating eggs to eating plant-based protein was associated with a 17% drop in cancer deaths.
Bottom Line: The higher the intake of animal protein sources, the higher the rate of cardiovascular disease and mortality. As opposed to, the higher the plant-based protein the lower the rates of mortality, especially cardiovascular disease deaths.
Click here for our list of the top 10 plant-based protein sources