Meat proteins do very little for your cardiovascular health — proteins from nuts and seeds are healthier for the heart

Experts say that proteins can be good for your heart, but only if you choose the right kind of protein sources. A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggests that meat-based protein sources increase the risks of cardiovascular disease and death, while protein from nuts and seeds keeps the heart healthy.

Researchers aimed to examine the link between specific patterns of protein intake with cardiovascular death. Researchers from Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California and AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris, France collaborated to conduct this study.

For the study, the researchers looked at the data of 81,337 men and women from the Adventist Health Study-2. They assessed the dietary patterns of the participants based on protein consumption between 2002 and 2007 using a validated food frequency questionnaire. The researchers chose to specify meat protein and proteins from nuts and seeds along with other major dietary sources.

“While dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may also have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk,” Gary Fraser of Loma Linda University, one of the leaders of the study, said in an article published on Integrative Practitioner.

The data recorded 2,260 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases during an average follow-up period of 9.4 years. The researchers found that people who consumed high amounts of protein from meat had a 60 percent increase in cardiovascular disease risk. On the other hand, those who ate high amounts of protein from nuts and seeds had a 40 percent decrease in cardiovascular disease risk. (Related: Red meat consumption increases risk of death from heart disease and cancer up to twenty percent.)

The researchers suggest that healthy diets can be enhanced by increasing protein sources from nuts and seeds and reducing meat-based protein sources.

Other heart-healthy proteins you should eat

Here are other heart-healthy protein sources that you should eat instead of meat-based protein sources:

  • Legumes: Other than nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and peanuts, legumes are also great sources of heart-healthy proteins. Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils do not contain cholesterol and have significantly less fat than meat. One cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein and less than one gram of fat, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
  • Fish: Fish is one of the greatest protein sources that help protect against heart and vascular diseases. Tuna and salmon are some of the best types of fish to eat for heart disease protection. These types of fish not only contain heart-healthy proteins, but also other heart-healthy nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin mB12, vitamin D, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium.
  • Poultry: Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is also a good source of low-fat protein. One serving of poultry has been associated with a 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to a serving of red meat each day. However, it is important to choose poultry that is actually lower in fat. Instead of eating fried chicken patties, choose skinless chicken breasts. When you prepare poultry dishes, remove any visible fat and remove the skin.

Visit to read more news stories and studies on keeping the heart healthy through proper diet.

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