- It has been long suspected that including nuts and seeds in the diet protects against heart and vascular disease, while red meats increase risk. A study has found that meat protein is associated with a sharp increased risk of heart disease while protein from nuts and seeds is beneficial for the human heart. The study included data from more than 81,000 participants and was published online by the International Journal of Epidemiology.
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The researchers found that people who consumed large amounts of meat protein experienced a 60% increase in cardiovascular disease, while people who consumed large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds experienced a 40% reduction in cardiovascular disease. Of all the plant and animal protein sources analyzed, the risk of cardiovascular deaths steadily climbed with higher consumption of meat protein and steadily fell with greater consumption of protein from nuts and seeds.
Why is meat harmful for the cardiovascular system?
- Meat is high in Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), which contribute to vascular damage.
- Meat is high in heme iron, which has pro-oxidant effects that promote cardiovascular disease.
- Meat contains pro-inflammatory components such as arachidonic acid, saturated fat, and carnitine.
- Meat consumption (and animal protein consumption in general) is associated with weight gain.
- Meat promotes the growth of unfavorable bacteria
Why are nuts and seeds the optimal protein choice for a cardio-protective diet?
- Nuts are rich in a variety of heart-healthy nutrients: potassium, magnesium, fiber, plant sterols, tocopherols (vitamin E), flavonoids and other polyphenols.
- Nuts have been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol.
- The fat-binding fibers are not absorbed, carrying fat into the stool and toilet.
- They are highly satiating, promoting a healthy weight.
- Nuts help maintain favorable blood pressure.
- They promote favorable blood glucose levels in studies on patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Nut consumption is associated with better blood flow and function and reduced oxidative stress.