A recent study states that a high protein diet rich in foods such as legumes and meat may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University in Australia observed the diets of 541 Australians and measured the levels of amyloid beta in their brain, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers established that participants with higher protein diet were less likely to have high levels of amyloid beta in their brain, lowering their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The partakers were categorized into three groups based on their protein intake. The team claimed that those with the highest intake of protein about 118 grams per day, were 12 times less likely to have high levels of amyloid beta compared to those who ate about 54 grams of protein per day.

The lead author Binosha Fernando published the study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, stating that this was the first ever study to examine the relationship between protein consumption and amyloid beta. The study clearly exhibits that more the protein intake, the lower the chances of someone having a high amyloid-beta load in the brain, which relates to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

Fernando states that the mechanism driving the association between high protein intake and low amyloid beta was as yet unidentified. One likely theory in a previous study has shown that a high protein diet is associated with lower blood pressure and amyloid beta.

Elevated blood pressure is a threat to both Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. Fernando, the researcher, states that developing cardiovascular disease increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Further research is required to determine the role of factors like gender, genetics, age and metabolic in the relationship between protein consumption and Alzheimer’s disease.

Protein is found in animal products like beef, pork, lamb, eggs, fish, and poultry as well as in plant-based foods like legumes, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

To maximize the protective effect demonstrated in the study, a person needs to eat about 120 grams of protein each day, a diet comprising of mixed bean and tuna salad for lunch, 100 grams of chicken and salad for dinner and a handful of peanuts as snack during the day. You will hit your target protein needs very close to lower your chances of having a high amyloid beta burden in your brain.