You don’t have to go full vegetarian (you never go full vegetarian! – Tropic Thunder, kind of) to improve your health.
It’s easy to reap the benefits of going green by replacing some of the animal proteins in your diet with plant-based ones. This is especially beneficial to those who are at risk of heart disease – or, those that smoke, drink excessively, are overweight, or inactive.
The story’s in the data: Researchers examined 30 years of data from 131,000 participants in the landmark Nurses’ Health Study and compared the outcomes of eating different types of protein. They found that swapping even a small amount of animal-based protein with plant-based significantly reduced risks of early death from all causes.
And the more animal-protein that was swapped, the greater the health benefits.
They also found that eating a high animal-protein diet was associated with a higher risk of death from heart disease.
So, back to getting more plant-protein in you. Consider nuts, legumes like beans and lentils, and whole grains, all of which provides the protein you need, and are quite filling. Don’t make a radical diet change – you’re not as likely to stick with it. Instead, gradually introduce these items over a longer period of time so the changes will persist.
Get creative: Use beans to replace some of the ground beef in recipes. Have oatmeal with chopped nuts instead of an egg- or sausage-based breakfast. Top salads with lentils instead of bacon bits. Use hummus or mashed avocado instead of mayo on sandwiches.
And when you want a traditional protein, don’t be afraid to have it – just choose poultry and fish, which were not linked to premature death in the study.
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