A diet that swaps fats found in meat for those in plants could reduce people’s chances of dying early by 24-to-26 per cent, according to a recent study.
Plant-based fats, like those found in avocados and olive oil, significantly reduce a person’s risk of premature death, study from Harvard University found.
More broadly, a diet richer in plant-based, monounsaturated fats lowers the risk of early death by 16 per cent, compared with diets lacking in these nutrients.
The study, which analysed 22 years of research, shows the kinds of fats people eat might make a significant difference to their lifespans.
Diets with more plant fats could cut risk of an early death by a quarter, study finds (stock)
How the research was carried out
The researchers collected information from 93,000 men and women.
They used two data sources. The first took place between 1990–2012 and used information from 63,412 females in the Nurses’ Health Study.
The second data set of 29,966 men was taken from a Health Professionals Study and took place over 1990–2010. The records contained detailed information about participants’ diets, which were collected every four years.
The scientists were interested in comparing the nutritional content of animal and plant-based monounsaturated fats, saying there was ‘conflicting evidence’ as whether one is better than the other.
Animal fats are found in red meat, fish, eggs, and full-fat dairy.
Plant sources include avocados, nuts, peanut butter, olive oil and sesame oil.
Foods like red meat, fish, eggs, and full-fat dairy contain animal-based fats (stock)
Results further suggest a diet rich in plant-based monounsaturated fats reduces the risk of an early death by 16 per cent compared with diets low in these nutrients.
Furthermore, replacing two-to-five per cent of calories with plant-based fats is linked to a 10-to-15 per cent higher survival rate.
When the calculation was repeated with animal monounsaturated fats and plant-based sources, the risk of death is lowered by 24-to-26 per cent.
Yet, the researchers note that while these results show overall that a plant-based diet helps improve lifespan, the study does not directly compare the nutritional content of plant versus animal-based fats.