Dear Dr. Walt,
What do you recommend and why? Animal or plant protein? What is best? Does it really matter?
—Meat Eater in Maine
A very large study was published this last summer which helps answer your question.
The quick answer is that those whose protein source was derived primarily from vegetables or other plant sources did appear to be healthier diet than those who ate meat.
Higher animal protein intake was associated with higher overall death rates and higher cardiovascular (CV) mortality.
However, and this is a big however, this association was only seen in those who also had at least one CV risk factor (such as smoking, heavy alcohol intake, overweight or obesity, and physical inactivity).
What this likely means is that increasing vegetable-based protein in one’s diet is a strategy that can be recommended for those at elevated CV risk.
In addition, I think it is important to point out that most of the differences between animal- and plant-based diets were confined to intake of red meat, especially processed red meat, and that intake of fish and poultry were not associated with adverse outcomes.
The bottom line is that decreased processed red meat should be a primary health strategy, followed by reducing or cutting out all red meat.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.