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Researchers suggest that consuming a large amount of animal protein based foods such as red meat, cheese and milk may be just as dangerous as smoking for middle-aged people.
In a new study published in the journal Cell: Metabolism<, scientists found that adults eating a high-protein diet were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause. They were several times more likely to die of diabetes and four times more likely to die from cancer, compared to those on a low-protein diet, reports Healthline.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California. Approximately 6,318 adults over the age of 50 took part in the experiment.
“We provide convincing evidence that a high-protein diet – particularly if the proteins are derived from animals – is nearly as bad as smoking for your health,” Dr. Valter Longo, professor of biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology told The Daily Telegraph.
Their definition of a “high-protein diet” is a diet in which at least 20 percent of the calories consumed is from protein. They suggest that middle aged people eat 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight a day.
Researchers recommended consuming healthier proteins such as chicken, fish, pulses, vegetables, nuts and grain.
The experiment has sparked backlash, as some nutritional experts believe it is too soon to draw such a conclusion from the study.
According to The Independent, food nutritionist at the University of Reading, Dr. Gunter Kuhnle, said, “While this study raises some interesting perspectives on links between protein intake and mortality… It is wrong, and potentially even dangerous, to compare the effects of smoking with the effect of meat and cheese.”
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons