- A new study has found that middle-aged men who follow high-protein diets may be at higher risk of heart failure.
- Among nearly 2,500 men between the ages of 42 and 60, those who ate the most animal protein and dairy were at a higher risk of developing heart failure than those who ate the least protein.
- Only proteins from fish and eggs were not associated with heart failure risk in this study, the researchers said.
- Further investigation is needed, as there is currently little research on the link between dietary protein and heart failure risk.
Middle-aged men who follow high-protein diets, such as the Atkins, may be at higher risk of heart failure, according to a new research.
The study published in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal, surveyed 2,441 men aged between 42 and 60 for an average period of 22 years. Over the course of the study, 334 cases of heart failure – when the body is unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to remain healthy – were diagnosed.
The researchers divided the participants into four groups based on the types of protein they consumed on a daily basis. They found that the men who ate the most animal protein and dairy were at a higher risk – 43% and 49% respectively – of developing heart failure than those who ate the least.
The men who ate all sources of protein were at a 33% higher risk, while those who consumed plant protein had a 17% risk.
Higher intake of protein from most dietary sources was associated with slightly higher risk, the researchers said, adding that only proteins from fish and eggs were not associated with heart failure risk in this study.
“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 Dr Jyrki Virtanen, study author and an adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland.
He added that earlier studies have linked diets high in protein – especially from animal sources – with increased risks of Type 2 diabetes and even death.
The authors of the study concluded that as there is currently little research on the link between dietary protein and heart failure risk, further research is needed before they can say that moderating protein intake would help to prevent it.
A separate study that was recently presented at the World Congress on Acute Heart Failure in Vienna found that eating protein can help patients with heart failure to live longer – quite the opposite result.
The research investigated the association between protein intake and survival in 2,281 patients, with an average age of 68 years, and who were all diagnosed with heart failure.
The participants were divided into groups based on the amount of protein they consumed daily, which was estimated from their urine. The association with mortality was then assessed.
At the end of the 21-month period, 31% of patients who ate the least amount of protein – 40 grams or less per day – had died compared to 18% of respondents who consumed the most – 70 grams or more per day.
Once the researchers had taken into account certain variables, such as age and renal function, the patients with the lowest protein intake had a 46% higher risk of death than those with the highest.