Are men eating too much meat?
High-protein diets are trending in America today, but scientific research is in the early stages of understanding the long-term effects. Diets like the Atkins and Keto have taken a stance against carbohydrate and dairy intake and preferred a protein-based diet. But the diet debate certainly raises the question: what effects does this have on your heart?
Research performed by the University of Eastern Finland Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition studied the diets of more than 2,400 men between the ages of 42 and 60 for an average of 22 years. The study looked at the effects of diets high in dairy and protein, especially animal-based proteins, and how it may be tied to the risk of heart failure. This study emphasized the potential importance of having a balanced diet rather than a weight loss, protein powered one.
Heart health is vital to longevity, but in the U.S., 5.7 million Americans have heart failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Heart failure occurs when your heart is unable to pump properly due to stiffness or weakness,” says Dr. William Cotts, an Advocate Heart Institute cardiologist at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.
The study reported that meat eaters had a 43 percent chance of developing the condition and that men who consumed dairy were at a 49 percent higher chance of developing heart failure.
Though still at risk, men who consumed plant-based protein only had a 17 percent chance of having heart failure.
“These statistics remind us of how dietary decisions may affect us in the long-run, but the key is to be mindful of our food choices,” says Dr. Cotts. “Moderation and balance is essential,” he adds.
Although there are many treatments for advanced heart failure, attempts at prevention can have the most impact. There are many causes of heart failure; however, several of the most important causes, as outlined by the American Heart Association, include high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. A cornerstone in the prevention of these diseases includes following simple dietary guidelines.
“We have many ways of improving quality of life and survival in patients with heart failure, but the way we treat our bodies now can often help prevent the onset of heart failure,” adds Dr. Cotts. “Adopting a healthy lifestyle is important to eliminate certain contributors to heart failure such as obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.”
About the Author
Allison Garetto, health enews contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a senior at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where she is pursuing a degree in communication and a minor in psychology. Allison is a vegetarian, artist and travel enthusiast.