We’ve heard a lot about the supposed benefits of a high-protein diet, and a number of pop-heath gurus have extolled it as a way to lengthen your life. But new evidence has arisen that, for middle-aged and older men, a high-protein diet may, in fact, increase the risk of heart failure and early death…
You don’t expect to hear that a diet which sounds clean and healthy is bad for you. For younger, more active men and women, a high-protein diet may actually be the ideal way to go. But for older men – middle aged and up – a new study shows that a high-protein diet may do more harm than good.
How they define ‘heart failure’…
The American Heart Association estimates that one in five Americans 40 and older will develop heart failure – a condition where the body is unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to remain healthy. Heart failure can shorten life expectancy. And, with no cure, preventing heart failure through diet, lifestyle and more is vital.
“As many people seem to take the health benefits of high-protein diets for granted, it is important to make clear the possible risks and benefits of these diets,” said Jyrki Virtanen, Ph.D., study author and an adjunct Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. “Earlier studies have [also] linked diets high in protein – especially from animal sources – with increased risks of Type 2 diabetes and even death.”
What they did…
Researchers studied nearly 2,500 men between ages 42 and 60 by dividing them into four groups based on their self-reported protein consumption habits. The test subjects were followed for 22 years with researchers assessing their heart health at regular intervals.
The greatest risk of heart failure (49%) showed up in men who consumed large amounts of Dairy protein. Next came Animal protein at 43%, followed by Plant protein with just a 17% risk. Egg and Fish proteins showed no increased risk of heart failure in the study.
What it means…
The study really just confirms the age-old caution that ‘too much red meat is bad for you’. And the other recommendation that ‘eating more Fish is good for you’.
The study also confirmed, or bolstered, the findings of other recent studies that vindicated Eggs as a danger to your heart.
I, personally, was surprised to see that consumption of large amounts of Dairy protein led the list in the risk of hart failure. Well, they do say that normal, healthy adults don’t need to drink Milk to remain vital and live long.
How can you use this knowledge?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a dietary pattern that includes a variety of Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Grains, low-fat Dairy products, Poultry, Fish, Beans, non-tropical Vegetable Oils and Nuts; and limits intake of Sweets, Sugar-sweetened beverages and red Meats.
We might, considering the results of this study, consider emphasizing Fish and adding Eggs, explicitly, to the ‘good’ list.
And, as always, the operative word in the AHA recommendations is… Variety!
~ Maggie J.