While diets rich in meat and protein have been touted as beneficial for weight loss, new studies have shown that they can actually lead to heart failure, particularly in older women.

To come to this conclusion, researchers looked at the diets of 103,878 women between the ages of 50 and 79 years over the years 1993 to 1998. During this time, 1,711 of the women developed heart failure.

It was found that the women who developed heart failure more often ate high protein diets, and got their protein from meat. Women who met their daily protein intake with vegetables and grains were less at risk for heart failure.

Higher calibrated total dietary protein intake appears to be associated with substantially increased heart failure risk.

Dr Mohamed Firas Barbour of Brown University, lead researcher on the study, stated of the findings:

“While vegetable protein intake appears to be protective, although additional studies are needed to further explore this potential association.

Our findings should be interpreted with caution, but it appears that following a high-protein diet may increase heart failure risk.

While a better understanding of dietary risk is still needed, it appears that heart failure among postmenopausal women is not only highly prevalent but preventable by modifying diet.

Heart failure is highly prevalent, especially in post-menopausal women; therefore, a better understanding of nutrition-related factors associated with heart failure is needed.”

The group most at risk for developing heart failure thanks to a meat rich diet are women over the age 50. Therefore, it is recommended that women who fall into this age group avoid meat as much as possible–though it is also recommended for everyone to avoid red meat and only eat it on occasion.

If one would like to have meat, it is advised that they stick to poultry and stay away from poultry with the skin intact or that has been deep fried.

It is recommended that women over the age of 50, but all people in general, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Whole grain, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts should also be consumed in a heart-healthy diet. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are also recommended.

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