To improve your physical performance and your state of health, you need to guarantee a diet rich in proteins ... but vegetable proteins! In fact, a higher intake of vegetable proteins is linked to an improvement in physical performance, while this association is not observed for proteins of animal origin. This emerges from a recent scientific research that appeared in the Food and Nutrition Research magazine thanks to the work of an Italian team from the University of Verona (Gazzani et al, Food and Nutrition Research, 2019).
Better physical performance and lower risk of disease
Why is it so important to have better physical performance? The answer does not lie in the desire for competition that seems so dear to our society. No, the point is that it has been observed that poor physical performance is linked, in the long run, to an increased risk of mortality and disease with aging. In recent years, more and more scientific studies have brought to light the link between diet, understood as the food choices of the person, and health. A right amount of protein, in particular, is essential for maintaining muscle mass and preserving physical functions. However, until now it has always been thought that it was better to favor the proteins of animal origin, more readily available and, it was believed, better at protecting the health of the muscles. Precisely to verify this hypothesis, the researchers of the study we are talking about today wanted to measure the physical performance of the volunteers on the basis of the type of protein, animal or vegetable, of which their diet was rich.
Animal or vegetable proteins? The study
The researchers recruited 223 people, half of whom were women, all between the ages of 23 and 68. All the participants in the study were asked to fill in a questionnaire in which they were asked to specify, in addition to the state of health and lifestyle, also the daily diet in order to calculate the amount and type of protein introduced each day. Afterwards, the volunteers were asked to undergo a physical performance test. Specifically, people had to walk briskly for 6 minutes in a 25-meter long corridor. At the end of the 6 minutes, the distance walked was calculated. What emerged is that there is a direct relationship between the intake of plant-based proteins and the meters walked in the test. Specifically, the researchers reported that 20 meters more were walked for every increase in 10 g/day of vegetable proteins. However, this association was not observed for proteins of animal origin.
More nuts, almonds and legumes
More research is needed, also to assess whether what has been observed is the result only of an increase in proteins introduced with the diet or also of other nutrients contained in vegetables. In any case, for your current and future health, it is certainly a good choice to enrich your diet with proteins of vegetable origin, such as legumes, dried fruit, for example pine nuts, peanuts, almonds and walnuts, seeds, soy and derivatives and cereals.