Consuming high levels of plant protein may lower the risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease and dementia-related death in older women, says a new study. The study indicated that postmenopausal women with the highest amount of plant protein intake had a 9 per cent lower risk of death from all causes, a 12 per cent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 21 per cent lower risk of dementia-related death.
“Our findings support the need to consider dietary protein sources in future dietary guidelines," said researcher Wei Bao from the University of Iowa in the US. For the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers analysed data from more than 100,000 postmenopausal women — aged between 50 to 79 — who participated in the study between 1993 and 1998; they were followed through February 2017.
At the time they enrolled in the study, participants completed questionnaires about their diet detailing how often they ate eggs, dairy, poultry, red meat, fish/shellfish and plant proteins such as tofu, nuts, beans and peas. During the study period, a total of 25,976 deaths occurred (6,993 deaths from cardiovascular disease; 7,516 deaths from cancer; and 2,734 deaths from dementia).
The team noted the levels and types of protein women reported consuming, divided them into groups to compare who ate the least and who ate the most of each protein. The team found that higher consumption of processed red meat was associated with a 20 per cent higher risk of dying from dementia.
Higher consumption of unprocessed meat, eggs and dairy products was associated with a 12 per cent, 24 per cent and 11 per cent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, respectively.
Researchers noted that substitution of total red meat, eggs or dairy products with nuts was associated with a 12 per cent to 47 per cent lower risk of death from all causes depending on the type of protein replaced with nuts.