Protein is a nutrient whose importance for the diet cannot be emphasised enough. We all strive to include some or the other source of protein in every meal, be it in the form of legumes or meat. If you are on a high-protein diet comprising any of the protein-rich foods such as meat, dairy, soy or nuts - a new research that has come out may be of consequence to you. A new study claims that meat and other high-protein foods are generally higher in a component of protein called sulfur amino acids, which may prove to be bad for the heart.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, as we already know. A subcategory of these acids, called sulfur amino acids, play various roles in metabolism and health. The study conducted by the Penn State University in the US, published in the journal Lancet EClinical Medicine, found that a plant-based diet may be key to lowering risk for heart disease. This is because plant-based protein sources are lower in sulfur amino acid content than their meat-based counterparts.
"Meats and other high-protein foods are generally higher in sulfur amino acid content. People who eat lots of plant-based products like fruits and vegetables will consume lower amounts of sulfur amino acids," said study lead author Zhen Dong from Penn State University in the US.
The study was conducted with over 11,000 participants from a national study. They compiled a composite cardio metabolic disease risk score based on levels of certain biomarkers in participants' blood after a 10-16 hour fast including cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and insulin. Participants were excluded from the study if they reported having either congestive heart failure, heart attack or a reported change in diet due to a heart disease diagnosis.
After accounting for body weight, the researchers found that average sulfur amino acid intake was almost two and a half times higher than the estimated average requirement. The researchers found that higher sulfur amino acid intake was associated with a higher composite cardio metabolic risk score after accounting for potential confounders like age, sex and history of diabetes and hypertension. They also found that high sulfur amino acid intake was associated with every type of food except grains, vegetables and fruit.
"Here we saw an observed association between certain dietary habits and higher levels of blood biomarkers that put a person at risk for cardio metabolic diseases," said study researcher John Richie. Thus, there is a clear link between reliance on meat-based protein sources versus those extracted from plants. The latter may be more beneficial in the long run to combat heart disease effectively.
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