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High Protein Diets May Hurt Your Heart

Researchers found high-protein foods heightened the amino acids in the body and seemed to have a direct effect on a rise in cholesterol.

New research just unveiled what many nutrition experts have been telling clients for the past few years: High-protein diets may actually harm your body and shorten your life. 

The study, published in 2020 by The Lancet, showcases a higher risk for cardiovascular events and diseases for those who eat a  high-protein diet, rich in animal tissue. Uncovered in the study, high sulfur amino acids are getting the blame for stress on the heart. 

While the body needs amino acids to keep it running smoothly, they found high-protein foods heightened the amino acids in the body and seemed to have a direct effect on a rise in cholesterol.

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“Overall, our findings suggest that diets lower in SAA (sulfur amino acids) are associated with reduced risk for cardiometabolic diseases. Low SAA dietary patterns rely on plant-derived protein sources over meat derived foods. Given the high intake of SAA among most adults, our findings may have important public health implications for chronic disease prevention.” 

Understanding sulfur amino acids

The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines sulfur amino acids as this: “Methionine, cysteine, homocysteine, and taurine are the 4 common sulfur-containing amino acids, but only the first 2 are incorporated into proteins.” Keeping a diet low in methionine and cysteine could be as easy as keeping a list of which foods contain these sulfur amino acids. 

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Foods rich in methionine

 

  • Turkey
  • Beef Steak
  • Tuna
  • Pork Chops
  • Tofu
  • Milk 
  • Ricotta Cheese

 

Foods rich in cysteine

 

  • Chickpeas
  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Oats
  • Turkey
  • Walnuts

 

Eat this, not that

“There is significant study that shows that animal protein has a negative impact on heart health. If one wants to do a ketogenic diet, I strongly recommend a vegetarian keto approach,” explained Heather Sand, certified nutritionist and personal trainer in Minnesota. 

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Foods like nut butters, low-carb fruits, and leafy non-starchy vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, are all a great place to incorporate keto-friendly, vegetarian options onto your plate and into your lifestyle. Avoid foods like meat and potatoes, red beans, sauces and grain cereals.

Sand believes starting children early on healthy diets can help them choose healthier foods as adults. “My fridge is always stocked with dark berries,” Sand mentioned. “I always keep kale on-hand for salads or to dehydrate with salt and pepper for chips. The kids actually beg for them!”

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