Think Your High-Protein Diet Is Healthy? It May Be Hurting Your Heart

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High-protein diets are touted as satiating and great for weight loss. But new research finds that they could do more harm than good if they’re not done smartly.

A new study from researchers at the University of Eastern Finland found that men who consumed a high-protein diet increased their risk of developing heart failure by 33 percent.

This finding comes as diets that tend to be higher in protein, like Atkins or keto, skyrocket in popularity.

A deeper look at protein

For the study, researchers gathered data on almost 2,500 men between the ages of 42 and 60 from 1984 and 1989. They asked the participants to log their food intake for four days and were followed over the course of 22 years. During that time, there were 334 cases of heart failure.

After more closely looking at diet, the researchers discovered that higher protein intake was correlated with greater risk of heart failure.

Further, researchers broke down the sources of protein intake. They found that the men who ate the most protein from animal sources had a 43 percent greater risk of heart failure compared with those who ate the least amount of protein.

Those that consumed a high amount of protein from dairy sources had a 49 percent increased risk. Those who consumed most of their protein from plants had a 17 percent increased risk.

Despite those higher protein intakes all being associated with increased risk for heart failure, protein from eggs and fish wasn’t associated with an increased risk.

Is your diet high protein?

“We studied the protein intake from a rather normal diet,” said study co-author Heli Virtanen, MSc, PhD student, and researcher at the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio. She notes that the diets included in the study aren’t extreme, and therefore aren’t far off from how most people eat.

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