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Christmas dinner. Chateaubriand steak cooked with a thick cut from the tenderloin filet, rare medium served with roasted onions, pepper and herbs: The combination of high animal protein intake and an unhealthy lifestyle has been linked to an increased risk of death.

© (Getty Images) The combination of high animal protein intake and an unhealthy lifestyle has been linked to an increased risk of death.

Be careful at your next barbecue: The combination of heavy animal protein intake, particularly red and processed meats, and an unhealthy lifestyle has been linked to an increased risk of early death, according to new researchexamining the effects of different protein sources on health.The good news? Getting protein from plant sources appears to be linked to a lower risk of premature death, the study suggests.

These findings were published today in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers examined data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Combined, this data includes more than 170,000 participants dating back to the ’80s, complete with health questionnaires and information on dietary intake.

Over the course of the study, more than 36,000 study participants died. The increased risk of premature death was only observed in those who had at least one unhealthy lifestyle factor in addition to high consumption of animal protein: being either obese or underweight, consuming alcohol heavily, having a history of smoking or being physical inactive, according to a press release. Healthy individuals did not appear to have an increased risk of early death.

Conversely, plant protein sources like nuts and beans were linked to a lower risk of early death..

“Our findings suggest that people should consider eating more plant proteins than animal proteins, and when they do choose among sources of animal protein, fish and chicken are probably better choices,” study author Mingyang Song said in a statement. “Future studies should examine the mechanisms underlying the different effects of plant and animal proteins – along with different sources of animal proteins – on overall health.”

This study comes on the heels of the World Health Organization’s indictment of red meat, which it deemed probably carcinogenic, though the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans failed to warn consumers from eating it.

Be careful at your next barbecue: The combination of heavy animal protein intake, particularly red and processed meats, and an unhealthy lifestyle has been linked to an increased risk of early death, according to new researchexamining the effects of different protein sources on health. 

The good news? Getting protein from plant sources appears to be linked to a lower risk of premature death, the study suggests.

These findings were published today in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers examined data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Combined, this data includes more than 170,000 participants dating back to the ’80s, complete with health questionnaires and information on dietary intake.

Over the course of the study, more than 36,000 study participants died. The increased risk of premature death was only observed in those who had at least one unhealthy lifestyle factor in addition to high consumption of animal protein: being either obese or underweight, consuming alcohol heavily, having a history of smoking or being physical inactive, according to a press release. Healthy individuals did not appear to have an increased risk of early death.

Conversely, plant protein sources like nuts and beans were linked to a lower risk of early death..

“Our findings suggest that people should consider eating more plant proteins than animal proteins, and when they do choose among sources of animal protein, fish and chicken are probably better choices,” study author Mingyang Song said in a statement. “Future studies should examine the mechanisms underlying the different effects of plant and animal proteins – along with different sources of animal proteins – on overall health.”

This study comes on the heels of the World Health Organization’s indictment of red meat, which it deemed probably carcinogenic, though the most recentDietary Guidelines for Americans failed to warn consumers from eating it.

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