The problem with protein

| 29 July 2020
minute reading time

Disease link with animal protein explained

Going vegan isn’t only good for animals and the environment, but good for your health, too. Diets rich in meat and dairy are linked to heart disease, strokes, diabetes and some cancers and people who eat lots of animal foods also tend to live shorter lives. A new study suggests that the sulphur-containing amino acids found in animal protein may be partly to blame. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein but ones that contain sulphur, typically found in high amounts in eggs, fish, red meat and chicken, are linked to a higher risk of disease. This study, published in the Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine looked at over 11,500 adults over six years and found that those eating diets high in sulphur amino acids had higher cholesterol, insulin resistance and blood glucose – increasing their risk of these diseases. Those eating low levels had significantly lower levels of markers and disease. This may explain some of the observed health benefits of a vegan diet and why swapping meat, dairy, fish and eggs for wholegrains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds can help protect your health.

Dong Z, Gao X, Chinchilli VM et al. 2020. Association of sulfur amino acid consumption with cardiometabolic risk factors: Cross-sectional findings from NHANES III. EClinicalMedicine. 19, 100248.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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