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Study: Lean Toward Plant-Based Proteins at Midlife

Diets that include higher amounts of protein from plant-based sources may make a tremendous difference in aging women’s health, according to a new study by Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Researcher Center on Aging. 

Plant Brain
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The study, which was published Jan. 17 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at self-reported data from more than 48,000 women who were part of the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study, which followed female healthcare professionals from 1984 to 2016. The study participants, between the ages of 38-59 in 1984, were in good physical and mental health at the study’s start.

The researchers found that protein was important at midlife—and that plant-based protein was linked to notably less heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. “Consuming protein in midlife was linked to promoting good health in older adulthood,” said Dr. Andres Ardisson Korat, the study’s lead author. “We also found that the source of protein matters. Getting the majority of your protein from plant sources at midlife, plus a small amount of animal protein seems to be conducive to good health and good survival to older ages.”

The research team examined surveys collected every four years from participants to determine how frequently they ate certain foods and to see if they could identify dietary protein and its effect on aging. The researchers also compared the diets of women who didn’t develop 11 chronic diseases or lose significant physical or mental function with the diets of those who did. 

They found that participants who consumed more animal protein were 6% less likely to stay healthy as they aged, whereas those who ate more plant-based proteins were 46% more likely to be healthy longer.

Happy food plants
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We at I Start Wondering realize that food is not only a source of sustenance, but for many, a great joy in life. With that said, we’ve written several columns that look at dietary issues that we’ve experienced in our own lives:

We invite the ISW community to really learn to sit and listen to your body—what is it telling you? We’d also invite you to contemplate how you can make better choices in what you eat that will not only help you live longer but also enjoy better health.


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