Magazine article Science News

High-Protein Diets May Help Hearts

Magazine article Science News

High-Protein Diets May Help Hearts

Article excerpt

Much of the dietary advice directed in recent years at patients with heart disease has extolled the virtue of cutting down on fat by limiting consumption of meat and eating more vegetables.

Now comes a study that challenges the conventional wisdom. In terms of the heart, it finds, protein-rich meat may be healthier than those carbohydrate-rich veggies.

Since 1980, nutritional epidemiologists at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston have been probing links between diet and health in female nurses. In their latest study, the researchers looked at protein consumption among 80,082 of the nurses, analyzing their diets at 2-to-4-year intervals through 1994. The survey sample included 658 nurses who had suffered heart attacks and another 281 who died from heart disease.

Women consuming the most protein--taking in some 24 percent of their calories in that form--faced just three-quarters of the heart-disease risk seen in the women deriving a mere 15 percent of their calories from protein. What's more, animal protein appeared as protective as protein derived from plants, report Harvard's Frank B. Hu and his team in the August AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION.

A 1991 study at the University of Western Ontario in London switched 10 men and women at risk of heart disease between diets low or high in protein. During the high-protein phase, the participants' blood concentrations of triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins fell, while high-density-lipoprotein concentrations climbed. All were changes that should reduce heart-disease risk, notes endocrinologist Bernard M. …

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