When it Comes to Food Always Chose Quality Over Quantity
It is very important to know that not all protein is created equal. For heart health, experts say the Key is moderation and choosing wisely.
“Very high intake of meat, especially processed red meat, is not good for overall health,” said Dr. Jyrki Virtanen, author of a recent study on protein consumption. “Those who are used to eating very high amounts of meat could consider moderating their intake.”
The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recommendation for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For a 155 lb adult, that’s roughly 56 grams. For a 190 lb adult, it’s about 68 grams.
The USDA has a calculator to help determine a recommended daily allowance on its website.
Dr. Virtanen’s study found middle-aged and older men who ate higher amounts of protein were slightly more likely to develop heart failure than men who ate lower amounts. He and his colleagues looked at data from 2,441 Finnish men over 20 years and found 334 cases of heart failure.
The results showed men who consumed the highest amount of protein had a 33% higher increased risk of heart failure than men who consumed the lowest amounts.
“More research on this topic is definitely needed,” said Dr. Virtanen, an adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland. “But our findings indicate that high protein intake may have some adverse effects on health, especially if the protein is coming from animal sources.”
Just what kind of protein is best for cardiovascular health is a question that has evolved in recent years.
A study in November said eating a mostly plant-based diet was associated with a 42% reduced risk of developing heart failure for people with no history of heart disease.
The American Heart Association’s (AHA) lifestyle recommendations for reducing cardiovascular risk emphasize a healthy eating pattern that includes:
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, non- and low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, fish, nuts, beans and non-tropical vegetable oils.
Limiting non grass fed red and processed meat, sweets and sugary drinks is very important.
Still, many people cling to the notion of eating lots of meat and protein, fueled in part by the enduring popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets such as Paleo, Ketogenic, Atkins and the Zone, said a dietitian and professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
“But if you use that very high protein diet to lose weight, typically the only way to keep that weight off is to continue to follow that dietary pattern, and there might be potential health issues there,” said the chair of AHA’s nutrition committee.
“Probably the biggest problem with large amounts of protein is when it doesn’t leave room in your diet for antioxidant-rich and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and whole grains.”
In May, the AHA issued a new advisory recommending people up their intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating 1-2 servings of non-fried fish or shellfish a week. Wild caught fish was among “the good-quality proteins people should be looking for, including lower-fat dairy and plant-based proteins, like soy and quinoa.”
As people get older, their protein requirements typically increase. But no matter their age, people confused about their protein intake should seek out an expert.
“I think it’s a good idea to work with a registered dietitian, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. They can tell you This is a healthy diet’ or You are getting enough protein, but the rest of your diet needs work.
So, much more important than the amount of protein we eat is the quality of our protein.
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