The craze and fascination attached to high-protein, low-carb diets aren’t something new and exist since a couple of decades. No slimming freak or dieting guru will be oblivious of Paleo, Ketogenic, Atkins and Zone diets that are still sailing high on popularity but low on heart health. One of the three macronutrients, protein is found all over the body including bones, muscles, skin, hair and every part of the body or tissue. There are more than 10,000 different proteins that make you what you are and keep you that way.
Millions of people worldwide lack sufficient protein quantities and such inadequate levels can result in growth failure, loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, weakening of the heart and respiratory system and death. Reputed food experts worldwide feel that the exact amount of protein that a person should consume still remains a mystery and varies according to the age of the person.
Source Rather than Numbers Matter!
Protein is found in multiple foods but what matters more is the source of this nutrient rather than the amount of protein you’re eating. For instance, red meat too contains protein, but high intake of processed red meat is not good for overall health and individuals who tend to relish more of this food product should try limiting its intake.
Proteins are both plant-based and animal-based. Plant-based protein sources such as beans and nuts contain unsaturated fats and fiber which help lowering LDL cholesterol levels. A study by the American Heart Association suggests that eating a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of developing heart failure for people with no prior history of heart diseases by as much as 42%. Whereas, most animal-based diets contain saturated fat which is less healthy than unsaturated fat. Red meat and eggs contain a compound called carnitine which on breaking down by gut bacteria forms a substance that can lead to hardening of the arteries. At the same time, certain other animal-based proteins such as particular varieties of fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help protecting against blood clot, lower blood pressure and calm dangerous heart rhythm.
Excellent sources of protein that can be consumed with a peaceful mind and an open heart include beans and legumes, nuts, shellfish and low-fat dairy products. Meanwhile, poultry, red meats and processed meats should be restrictedly used. Compared to red meat, poultry is healthier and nutritionists/dietitians recommend eating only red meat occasionally, maybe once a week or so. High-level guidelines suggest eating a diet consisting more of plant-based foods. If you are an environmentalist or someone who cares about the climate change, it is better that you limit intake of red meat.
On a comparative basis, processed meats such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs and deli meat, have high levels of fats, calories and four times the salt. Some people who eat processed meat at least once daily are at an increased risk of heart diseases and diabetes than those who don’t eat them.
It is advisable to take 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight or about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example, a 60-kilogram adult should consume 48 grams of protein.
More the Protein Numbers, More Prolific is the Danger of Heart Failure
A study by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that middle-aged and older men who consumed increased amounts of protein are likelier to develop heart failure than men who consumed lower amounts. The study looked at the data of 2,441 Finnish men over a span of 20 years and discovered 334 cases of heart failure. Another main discovery was that, men who consumed higher levels of protein were at a 33% increased risk of heart failure than men who consumed the lowest amounts.
Research conducted at Harvard School of Public Health has shown that eating small amounts of red meat (specifically processed red meat) regularly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and also, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. At the same time, substituting red or processed meats with healthier protein sources such as poultry, fish or beans reduces the risk by multi-folds.
This clearly shows the ill-effects of high quantities of proteins, especially when it comes from animal sources. This brings us to the most important point of discussion-which kind of protein is best for cardiovascular health?
Best Proteins Listed Just for You
Not all foods are created equally and certain foods are definitely one step above the rest in terms of nutrition and health. Certain lifestyle recommendations for reducing cardiovascular risk must include the following foods as part of a healthy diet:
Instead, if you choose to seek the shortcut route and stick with high-protein diets such as the Paleo or Ketogenic diet to lose weight, the only way to maintain the lost weight is by continuing the diet and this can end up in severe health problems. The reason for this is that, the huge quantities of protein in these diets don’t leave much room for antioxidant-rich and fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
It is always best to consume animal sources of protein such as fish or if one sticks with plant-based sources, quinoa, soy and low-fat dairy are great choices. Protein requirements increase as people age and the irony is that, people are confused over the protein intake recommendations at any age. The best way is to get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com who can help you with protein choices and numbers, especially if you have a family history of heart attack. An RDN can assure you of a healthy diet, give a green signal to the protein sources you currently consume and regulate your protein numbers to stay in line with the protein intake suggested for the age.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
+91 7846 800 800
Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.