Study Reveals Women on Plant Protein-Based Diets Experience Healthier Aging

by Ella

In a recent study led by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University, it has been unveiled that women who incorporate higher amounts of protein, particularly from plant-based sources, encounter fewer chronic diseases and are more likely to maintain better health as they age.

The research, based on data from the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study, encompassed self-reported information from over 48,000 women aged 38 to 59, initially in good health, spanning from 1984 to 2016. The findings demonstrated a substantial link between increased plant protein intake and a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and cognitive decline. Notably, the study emphasizes that the source of protein plays a crucial role, with plant proteins exhibiting more long-term health benefits compared to animal proteins.


Key Highlights:

Healthy Aging Link: Women with a higher intake of plant-based proteins exhibited a 46% higher likelihood of healthy aging, in stark contrast to a 6% decrease in those consuming more animal protein.


Heart Health and Cognitive Benefits: Plant proteins were strongly associated with better heart health, lower LDL cholesterol levels, and improved mental health in later years, unlike animal proteins.


Source of Protein Matters: Consuming the majority of protein from plant sources in midlife, supplemented with a small amount of animal protein, appeared conducive to good health and increased longevity.


The study, led by scientist Andres Ardisson Korat of the HNRCA, delved into the dietary habits of women deemed to be in good physical and mental health at the study’s commencement. Protein intake was calculated by analyzing surveys conducted every four years from 1984 to 2016, taking into account the frequency of specific food consumption and their protein content.

Results indicated that women opting for more plant-based protein sources, including bread, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and pasta, were 46% more likely to maintain health into their later years. Conversely, those consuming more animal protein, such as beef, chicken, milk, fish/seafood, and cheese, showed a 6% decrease in the likelihood of healthy aging.

Andres Ardisson Korat stated, “Consuming protein in midlife was linked to promoting good health in older adulthood,” underscoring the significance of plant-based protein in achieving better overall health.

The study highlighted that while animal protein was modestly associated with fewer physical limitations in older age, plant protein exhibited a stronger, more consistent correlation across all observed models. It was also closely linked with sound mental health later in life.

The research team acknowledged that the benefits of plant protein might stem from components in plant-based foods beyond just protein, including higher dietary fiber, micronutrients, and beneficial compounds like polyphenols, present exclusively in plants.

This groundbreaking study provides valuable insights into the potential health benefits of adopting a plant protein-based diet, offering a roadmap for healthier aging, particularly for women.



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