NFL players are eating paleo foods
The NFL players who are eating more plant-based foods are doing so because they feel like it’s a way to live longer, a new study has found.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota, the University at Buffalo, and the University School of Medicine in Vienna tracked the health and nutritional profiles of more than 1,000 players in the NFL from 2010 to 2015.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University Health Network, the National Institutes of Health, the Minnesota Health Care System, the United States Football League, the New England Patriots, the Los Angeles Chargers, the Tennessee Titans, the Houston Texans, the Oakland Raiders, and three other teams.
The NFL Players Association and the National Football League Players Association are not affiliated with the research, and spokespeople for the NFLPA and NFL did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The players who were consuming a diet of plant-related foods averaged 9.1 percent body mass index (BMI) and 13.7 percent body fat, according to the study, published on Oct. 1 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
They were also eating a diet with lower cholesterol levels, which was associated with lower blood pressure, lower diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.
Those who were not consuming a plant-derived diet also had lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other conditions.
The average age of those players who participated in the study was 31, according the researchers.
The healthiest players were those who ate the most plant-containing foods, the researchers said.
Players who ate less than 5 percent plant-source foods had an average BMI of 26.3, the study found.
The athletes who ate 5 to 10 percent plant foods had a BMI of 29.5.
The researchers concluded that the average plant-dieter was eating 1.1 more calories per day than someone who ate no plant-sourced food.
The study also found that the plant-eaters were eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
The average vegan athlete was consuming about 1.3 grams of protein per day, the report found.
That’s about the same amount of protein as an average American.
The vegan athlete also consumed more plant protein than the average American athlete.
The research team found that some plant-food eating habits could help protect the health of the players.
For instance, they found that players who ate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish were more likely to have lower cholesterol.
Players also were eating less saturated fat, added sugar and processed meats, which may be protective.
However, plant-feeding athletes had a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according, the authors wrote.
In addition, the athletes who were eating a plant diet also tended to have a lower body mass average than those who were a plant source.
The researchers said the plant dieters had more frequent diabetes, hypertension, and some types of cancer.
The findings were in line with other research that has found a link between plant- and animal-based diets.
A study last year found that those who follow a plant eating pattern had a lower risk of death from heart disease than those eating a more animal-type diet.
A 2013 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that a vegetarian diet that includes less red meat and poultry had a significantly lower risk than a meat-and-egg diet.
The new research did not find any significant differences in the risk of dying from heart or cancer.
Follow Jillian Kay Melchior on Twitter at @JillianMKMelchior.