In a new study, researchers confirmed that diets high in animal proteins are linked to a higher risk of death.
The new finding provides further evidence that animal-based diets could be harmful to people’s health.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Eastern Finland.
Previous studies have shown that a high intake of animal protein, especially red meat and processed meats, is linked to a higher risk of death.
However, the health effects of protein and different protein sources remain unclear.
In the study, the team used data from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study.
That study analyzed the diet habits of about 2,600 Finnish men aged between 42 and 60 at the onset of the study in 1984-1989.
The mean age of the men participating in the study was 53 years at the beginning of the study.
The researchers examined the death risk of these people in a follow-up about 20 years
They focused on protein sources and death risk during a time and other lifestyle factors and dietary habits.
The researchers found that men who favored animal protein over plant-based protein in their diet had a greater risk of death compared with men whose diet was more balanced in terms of their sources of protein.
For example, men whose primary sources of protein were animal proteins had a 23% higher risk of death during the follow-up than men who had a balanced protein diet.
Men who eat a diet rich in red meat, i.e. more than 200 grams per day, had a 23% greater risk of death than men who ate less than 100 grams of red meat per day.
The team also found that a high intake of overall protein was linked to a higher risk of death in men with type 2 diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
The researchers suggest that protein sources play an important role in a healthy diet. Compared with animal proteins, well-balanced proteins from animals and plants are much healthier for people.
It is also important to control protein intake in people who have a pre-existing chronic medical condition.
Future work needs to examine the influence of protein sources in older people who are at a greater risk of malnutrition and whose intake of protein remains below the recommended amount.
One author of the study is Ph.D. Student Heli Virtanen from the University of Eastern Finland.
The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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