Women over the age of 50 who eat a high-protein diet could be at a higher risk for heart failure. This is especially true if majority of the protein comes from meat. This warning comes from a research presentation at the 2016 American Heart Association’s Scientific Session.
A total of 103,878 women between the ages of 50-79 years kept a food dairy from 1993 to 1998. During the five-year period, 1,711 women developed heart failure. The researchers analysed the diets of all 103,878 women and found that the rate of heart failure was much higher in women who ate a high-protein diet. Interestingly, the rate of heart failure was higher for women who got most of their protein from meat instead of vegetables. The link between protein source and heart failure was less compelling when the researchers took the women’s body weight into consideration.
The study author, Dr Mohamed Firas Barbour, commented that “our findings should be interpreted with caution, but it appears that following a high-protein diet may increase heart failure risk.” Dr Barbour is also an internist at the Alpert School of Brown University, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, in Pawtucket.
The findings were true regardless of age, race or ethnicity, level of education, or if the women had high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, anaemia or atrial fibrillation.
The team of researchers also used special biomarker data to accurately measure daily protein intake in the women. They did this to confirm their findings because self-reported dietary intake can be unreliable. The special biomarker consisted of doubly labeled water and urine nitrogen. The double labeled water uses non-radioactive tracers to measure how much energy a person burns, while urinary nitrogen measures exactly how much protein is eaten.
“While a better understanding of a dietary risk is still needed, it appears that heart failure among postmenopausal women is not only highly prevalent but preventable by modifying diet,” Dr Barbour commented. “Heart failure is highly prevalent, especially in post-menopausal women; therefore , a better understanding of nutrition-related factors associated with heart failure is needed.”
The American Heart Association recommends that people eat a dietary pattern that emphasis fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat diary products, poultry, fish, and nuts while limiting red meat, sugary foods and beverages. For people who eat meat, choose lean meats and poultry without skin and eat fish at least twice a week – preferably fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel, salmon and trout.