One simple food swap that could save your life

We’ve been telling you this all along, but it’s always nice to come across the proof in the pudding: Plant-based diets are just plain better for you—and the latest research backs this claim up.


A recently published systematic review and meta-analysis looked at how substituting animal protein for plant-based options might impact health status. Scientists evaluated data from nearly 40 different studies to see how this one dietary change influenced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and early death.


And, well, let’s just say the results speak for themselves…


A simple swap could save your life


After crunching all the numbers, this research team discovered the following trends:

  •  Swapping processed meat with nuts, legumes, and whole grains decreased risk of heart disease.
  • Replacing eggs with nuts, and butter with olive oil, also decreased risk of heart disease.
  • Replacing red meat and poultry with whole grains, replacing red or processed meat with nuts, and replacing eggs with nuts or whole grains all drove down diabetes risk.
  • Replacing red meat with nuts and whole grains, replacing processed meat with nuts and legumes, replacing dairy with nuts, and replacing eggs with nuts and legumes all reduced risk of early death by any cause.


These findings appeared in BMC Medicine back in November. But even with research like this making the rounds, some myths about plant-based diets continue to persist.


For one thing, it’s easy to assume that you can only get all your amino acids from animal products. But that is simply not true. The fact is, any diet type can have enough protein for health and longevity.


Vegan diets do present a challenge when they are overly starch-heavy. But if you are paying enough attention to the amino acid content of your plant-based food, there’s no reason you can’t get adequate protein without animal products. It just takes a little more work.  


Variety is essential


As with any diet, you need to be smart about it in terms of making sound choices and incorporating a wide variety of foods such as:

  • Nuts and Nut Butters
  • Seeds (e.g., chia, sesame, sunflower)
  •  Legumes (e.g., green peas, edamame, chickpeas)
  • Grains (e.g., quinoa)


Vegetables (e.g., leafy greens)


In addition to the findings we shared above, these plant-based foods are often associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer, too. And it’s no wonder: They’re rich in fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, all of which have various health benefits, including potential anti-cancer properties.


Then, of course, there’s soy. Soy foods are high in phytoestrogens (plant-derived compounds with estrogen-like activity), and have been widely studied for their potential protective effect against prostate cancer.


Enough, in fact, that many think soy is a prostate cancer-fighting wonder food—though as always, that would be a stretch. It’s true that some studies suggest that soy protein may help reduce prostate cancer risk, but the evidence is not conclusive.


That said, including fermented soy products (like tofu, tempeh, or miso) in your diet isn’t a bad idea.


None of this is to say that you must give up all animal protein to be healthy. But don’t be fooled by food industry marketing campaigns, either: You can get an ample supply of essential amino acids without consuming any dairy or meat products at all. And your body will reap the benefits.


The most important thing, at the end of the day, is to find a diet plan (ideally, one that’s packed with whole foods and plenty of plants) that works well for you—and stick to it.


Until next time,


The XY Wellness Team