Many vegans and vegetarians are asked how they get enough protein. An analysis of the eating records of a large sample of people following plant-based diets showed that, on average, they got 70% more protein than they needed every day. Beans, including canned beans, are an excellent plant protein source, as are lentils and split peas. Other examples include nuts, seeds, and soy.
The type of protein a person eats–primarily plant-based or primarily animal-based—matters to one’s health as food is a package deal: the protein cannot be isolated from other elements in the food. Overall, plant protein may provide healthier nutrients than animal protein. In the 1950’s, researchers found that coronary heart disease was almost non-existent among Ugandans, who consume their protein almost entirely from plant sources. Plant protein consumption may be linked to lower risk of heart disease, while the intake of animal protein can be associated with increased risk. Plant protein also appears linked to lower cancer risk than animal protein.
Nutritional research studies have found potential associations between a diet high in plant protein and the following beneficial effects:
- Lower risk of allergies
- Lower risk of bladder cancer
- Lower blood pressure
- Smaller BMI and slimmer waist
- Lower total cholesterol
- Phosphorus management for those suffering from chronic kidney disease
- Lower risk of Crohn’s disease
- Lower risk of endometrial cancer
- Lower heart disease and cancer mortality
- Lower risk of inflammatory bowel disease and ulcerative colitis
- Life extension
- Beneficial effects on psychological disorders linked to low serotonin levels
- Better preservation of muscle mass as one ages
- Beneficial effects for Parkinson’s disease patients
- Lower risk of premature puberty
- Slower progression of prostate cancer
Topic summary contributed by Linda.