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For Women Over 50, High-Protein Diets May Not Be Heart Healthy

High-protein diets are popular for weight loss and body shaping, but when it comes to heart health, they might not be worth the hype. According to a study presented at the American Heart Association's 2016 Scientific Sessions, women over 50 who follow a high-protein diet could be at a higher risk of heart failure. The study included 103,878 women, ages 50 to 79, who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative study from 1993 to 1998. Researchers looked at the women’s self-reported dietary data, as well as biomarkers like urinary nitrogen to estimate protein intake, and then examined this information in relation to heart failure diagnoses. The researchers found that:

  • Women who ate higher amounts of protein had an increased risk of heart failure compared with women who ate lower amounts of protein or got their protein from plant foods.
  • The correlation between lower protein intake and lower risk of heart failure was even noted among women with risk factors such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation.
  • Initially, higher intakes of plant protein appeared to prevent heart failure; however, this protective effect was found to be related to the women’s body mass rather than to the plant protein itself.

Although more research is needed to confirm a link between high protein intake and increased heart failure risk, these findings do highlight the strong influence diet can have on cardiovascular health. A balanced dietary pattern, recommended by the American Heart Association, emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts, and limits red meat and sugary foods and beverages.

Source: American Heart Association

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