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Day by day advances in science are changing views on the same problem. Today, a new study reports that increasing your protein intake would reduce heart diseases like arrhythmias.
Eating adequate amounts of protein generally translates into health benefits such as improved muscle mass when exercising. But, some studies warn that an excess of protein can lead to trigger damage at the heart level, and may increase the risk of heart failure.
Now, a new work presented at the Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology, together with the World Congress of Cardiologyto, suggests that, far from causing damage to the heart, increasing protein intake would reduce heart diseases such as arrhythmias. Specifically, it could prevent the development of atrial fibrillation in women, reducing their risk by up to 8%.
Atrial fibrillation in women is a heart rhythm disorder and is one of the main causes of cerebrovascular accidents or stroke, but also of other pathologies such as the aforementioned heart failure and even a heart attack.
Today it is known that eating an adequate amount of protein, especially in the case of women as they age, can help prevent brittleness and loss of bone and muscle mass; These are important factors, since it is estimated that each year that she ages, a woman usually loses a quarter of a kilogram of muscle mass on average.
Currently the recommended dietary guidelines worldwide are an intake of 0.8g / kg / day of protein in the adult population, in general. However, this pact of minimums only avoids falling into malnutrition, and many experts suggest that the appropriate thing would be to even double these recommendations.
In the case of the study, led by Daniel Gerber, a cardiovascular medicine fellow at Stanford University, more than 99,000 postmenopausal women were analyzed, with an average age of 64 years, whose data came from theObservational Study and Randomized Controlled Trials of the Women's Health Initiative.
According to their results, those women who ate between 50 and 74 g of protein a day were between 5% and 8% less likely to develop atrial fibrillation. However, starting at 74 g of protein per day, there were no longer statistically significant benefits.
Compared to current recommendations, these data would only imply increasing between 10 and 20 g of protein per day.
In food this would translate into including a chicken breast, a portion of salmon, two eggs or a Greek yogurt, as Gerber himself comments. And, as the researcher also points out, these proteins should always come from healthy foods, and not from foods with a high calorie content or full of saturated fats as would be the case with hamburgers.
In raw data, of the nearly 100,000 women studied, 21,258 (21.3%) developed atrial fibrillation during the study's 10-year follow-up. Women with previous heart rhythm problems were excluded, and their rhythm data was analyzed for two years, in a run-in period, to ensure that they did not occasionally experience atrial fibrillation. For its part, protein intake was evaluated using questionnaires and validated urinalysis, and the women were grouped into four groups according to their protein intake: less than 58 g per day, between 50-66 g per day, between 66-74 g daily, and more than 74 g daily.
On average, the women in the study consumed about 60 g per day, but those who consumed between 58 and 74 g per day had the lowest rates of atrial fibrillation. In addition, this relationship was maintained even taking into account age, race, education, other cardiovascular diseases, body mass, physical activity, consumption of toxins such as tobacco or alcohol, and various cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes.
It should be noted, as a curiosity, that women used to underestimate their protein intake, believing that they consumed up to 10 g less compared to reality, and also underestimated their caloric intake, believing that they consumed up to 600-700 kcal less compared to the reality contrasted with the data in urinalysis.
The results are in the same line as previous works, where it was already suggested that lean mass or muscle mass would reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation, while obesity would increase said risk. Even so, it should be noted that the study is not without limitations, since it is based on self-reported surveys and raw data, without conducting a clinical trial as such, something that we hope to be able to verify in future research.
We will have to wait for new research for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.