Vegan Proteins (Like Beans!) May Reduce The Risk of Disease

by Anjali Sareen on May 8, 2012

According to a study on PubMed done by Mark F. McCarty, it turns out the vegan proteins we consume may reduce the risk of “cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.”

Here’s the breakdown: amino acids regulate insulin and glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone made in the pancreas which promotes the breakdown of glycogen to glucose in the liver. What that essentially means is it works to raise blood sugar, as opposed to insulin, which does the opposite. Because 10 amino acids come from dietary protein, what we eat can have a major effect on our glucagon levels.

The author says, “soy protein, as well as many other vegan proteins, are higher in non-essential amino acids than most animal-derived food proteins, and as a result should preferentially favor glucagon production.” This in turn can regulate down lipogenesis (essentially, the formation of fat) and also regulate down bad cholesterol. Glucagon also, indirectly, through decreasing the circulating activity of a protein called IFG-I (or insulin-like growth factor 1), can “impede cancer induction”. The researcher believes that “diets featuring vegan proteins can be expected to lower elevated serum lipid levels and promote weight loss.” Additionally, “low-fat vegan diets may be especially protective in regard to cancers linked to insulin resistance–namely, breast and colon cancer–as well as prostate cancer; conversely, the high IGF-I activity associated with heavy ingestion of animal products may be largely responsible for the epidemic of ‘Western’ cancers in wealthy societies.”

Essentially, what this study finds is that a vegan diet could be one of the best sources of protection there is against cancer and other disease! And similar to what The China Study found, the author here also finds that animal products may be responsible for the prevalence of cancer in Western society.

He also finds that low-fat vegan diets can “markedly improve” diabetic control, lower elevated blood pressure and reduce the risk of many degenerative disorders.

Sounds like there’s no reason not go vegan, is there? Living a healthier life is easy: just switch to plants!

Check out our tips for easily transitioning to a plant-based diet here.

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Anjali Sareen

Anjali is the creator and Editor-in-Chief of Intellectualyst, as well as a vegan and lawyer in NYC. Read about her life adventures on her blog, She loves trying new vegan recipes and meeting new people! Email her at or find her on Facebook and Twitter today!
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