Too Much Protein May Be Bad for Your Heart

too much protein
For women over 50, following a diet high in animal protein may increase the risk of heart failure.

This is the conclusion of a preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting that investigated the effects of diet on heart failure in women ages 50 to 79 years of age. Researchers looked at the diet information submitted by over 100,000 participants over the course of five years. They found that women who ate a diet high in animal protein had a significantly higher rate of heart failure than those who ate a diet more balanced with fats and carbohydrates or higher in vegetable proteins. This remained true even when accounting for the presence of heart disease and heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, anemia and atrial fibrillation.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to pump sufficient blood throughout the body. The way the heart fails depends on the cause of the condition and the specific part(s) of the heart affected. Some risk factors that can lead to heart failure include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and having had a heart attack.

The findings from this preliminary research suggest that heart failure in older women is highly preventable. The risk of heart failure can be reduced dramatically by reducing animal protein in the diet—especially meat—and introducing other heart-healthy items like fish, whole grains, and vegetable proteins.

Here are some tips for a heart-healthy diet:

  • Increase consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
  • Make sure your plate is colorful, reflecting a variety of vitamins and minerals
  • Try replacing red meat with lean poultry or fish
  • Limit consumption of meat, high-fat dairy products, sugar, sweets and cheap groceries

Research shows that diet can have a profound impact on heart health. Eating right and developing healthy habits are great ways to start helping your heart and decrease your risk of heart disease.

Next steps