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Where to Get Your Protein for a Long, Healthy Life

By Michelle Crawford

You may not be surprised to hear that the food we eat has a profound effect on our health and longevity.

Health and wellness experts have long encouraged us to feast on fruits and veg out on veggies. The virtues of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds have been endlessly extoled.

But just how important is our intake of plant-based foods when it comes to helping us live longer, healthier lives?

That was the question tackled by researchers in a 2020 study entitled "Association Between Plant and Animal Protein Intake and Overall and Cause-Specific Mortality."

This cohort study of over 400,000 people and nearly 78,000 deaths showed that "greater intake of plant protein was significantly associated with lower overall mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality independent of several other risk factors." But exactly how significant was this association?

Beans. They really are good for your heart.
Well, replacing just 3% of animal protein with healthier, plant-based protein options reduced all-cause mortality by 10% in both men and women.

That's death from ANY cause though, so it included everything from diseases to accidents. Did the researchers look at any cause of death that we know is closely associated with diet and lifestyle, like heart disease?

Don't be silly, of course they did!

The association was even more pronounced when it came to cardivascular disease (CVD) mortality, meaning a 3% swap to plants reduced CVD mortality by 11% in men and 12% in women. The top offenders when it came to animal-based proteins were red meat and eggs.

Just say no.
Switching out 3% of red meat dropped overall mortality by 13% in men and 15% in women, while exchanging 3% of egg protein for plants dropped overall mortality by a whooping 24% in men and 21% in women!

Actionable Advice in 1-2-3

If you're ready to drop your risk of an early death, start today by replacing animal-based proteins with plant-based ones! Here are some tips:

  1. Instead of eggs for breakfast, try a delicious tofu scramble packed with whatever veggies you like. Tofu not your thing? A fruit- and nut-loaded oatmeal is packed with protein, especially when cooked with soy milk! Sweeten it with dates or dates syrup for an over-the-top AM treat.

  2. For lunch, enjoy a bean burrito or a chickpea salad sandwich. A vegetable soup with added beans is an excellent choice. Or go with a "chickun" salad topped with some air-fried soy curls.

  3. Round out your plant-powered day with a hearty bean chili or Indian-spiced lentil dal for dinner.

Make a list of your favorite plant-based foods (especially those high in protein) and purposefully add them to your weekly meal plan. The opportunities for delicious plant-based meals are limited only by your imagination!


Want more from Michelle?

Follow her here on Instagram or check out her local plant-based food start-up, Cult Legume!

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