top of page

These powerful foods can prevent chronic disease in women, study finds

[Jan. 22, 2024: JD Shavit, The Brighter Side of News]

Study reveals the potential of protein, particularly plant-based protein, in dramatically reducing the risk of chronic illness as women age.(CREDIT:

Food has long been regarded as a source of nourishment, but recent research suggests it may also be a potent form of medicine, particularly when it comes to protein consumption.

A groundbreaking study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has revealed the potential of protein, particularly plant-based protein, in dramatically reducing the risk of chronic illness as women age.


Lead author and scientist Andres Ardisson Korat conveyed the significance of their findings, stating, "Consuming protein in midlife was linked to promoting good health in older adulthood."

The study's results emphasize not just the importance of protein but also the source of that protein, shedding light on the benefits of prioritizing plant-based options while incorporating a smaller amount of animal protein.


Related Stories:


To arrive at these groundbreaking conclusions, researchers at Tufts University analyzed self-reported data from over 48,000 women, drawing data from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

Their meticulous investigation revealed that women who incorporated more protein from sources such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans into their diets were less likely to develop debilitating ailments like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.


Remarkably, plant-based proteins outperformed their animal and dairy counterparts in terms of health benefits. Those who favored plant proteins exhibited lower levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL cholesterol), maintained healthier blood pressure, and exhibited greater insulin sensitivity. Conversely, animal protein consumption correlated with elevated cholesterol levels.

Plant-based protein sources are readily available and include staples like lentils, beans, peas, spinach, and broccoli. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

What's even more remarkable is that individuals who prioritized plant-based proteins were found to be 46 percent more likely to enjoy robust health in their later years. This revelation underscores the profound impact of dietary choices on long-term well-being.


Notably, plant-based protein sources are readily available and include staples like lentils, beans, peas, spinach, and broccoli. These wholesome options can be effortlessly incorporated into daily meals, offering a flavorful and nutritious way to enhance health.

Conversely, individuals who leaned toward animal-based protein, such as beef, chicken, milk, fish/seafood, and cheese, were 6 percent less likely to maintain good health as they aged.

Main dietary contributors to total protein, animal protein, dairy protein, and plant protein derived from the 1984 FFQ in the Nurses’ Health Study. (CREDIT: Science Direct)

According to Korat, "Those who consumed greater amounts of animal protein tended to have more chronic disease and didn't manage to obtain the improved physical function that we normally associate with eating protein."


While this study provides valuable insights, it's important to acknowledge that the participants were predominantly white. Consequently, there is a need for further research encompassing a more diverse range of racial demographics to determine if plant-based protein offers the same benefits for all women. Korat emphasizes, "The data from the study tended to be very homogeneous in terms of demographic and socioeconomic composition, so it will be valuable to follow up with a study in cohorts that are more diverse. It's a field that is still evolving."

Odds ratios (ORs) (95% confidence intervals) of healthy aging (n = 3721) associated with isocaloric substitution of protein (total, animal, dairy, and plant) for dietary carbohydrate (total, refined, and from whole grains) and dietary fatty acids (total, saturated, polyunsaturated, and trans) modeled in 3%-energy increments in 48,762 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study. (CREDIT: Science Direct)

In light of these unexpectedly effective results, it may be prudent to consider incorporating additional plant-based protein into your daily diet. A cup of beans, a generous serving of spinach, or a handful of nuts could make a significant difference in promoting health and longevity.


As Korat aptly summarizes, "Dietary protein intake, especially plant protein, in midlife plays an important role in the promotion of healthy aging and in maintaining positive health status at older ages." The implications of this study are profound, serving as a reminder that our dietary choices can be a powerful tool in shaping our health and well-being throughout our lives.

For more science and technology stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


Like these kind of feel good stories? Get the Brighter Side of News' newsletter.


Most Recent Stories

bottom of page