News Release: Shifting Protein Sources Away from Red Meats May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease in Women

A new study published  in an advance online edition of Circulation by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found substituting protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry and nuts for red meat was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).  Women who consumed higher amounts of red meat had a greater risk of CHD.   

The researchers followed 84,136 women aged 30-55 years in the Nurses’ Health Study over a period of 26 years. The participants had no known cancer, diabetes, stroke, angina or other cardiovascular disease. To assess diets, the participants filled out a questionnaire every four years about the types of food they ate and how often.  The findings are as follows:

  • Eating one serving per day of nuts in place of red meat was linked to a 30% lower risk of CHD
  • Substituting a serving of fish in place of red meat was linked to a 24% lower risk of CHD
  • Shifting to poultry was linked to a 19% lower risk
  • Eating low-fat dairy was associated with a 13% lower risk

“Our research adds to the growing and convincing body of evidence that red meat intake should be minimized or excluded from the diet in order to maintain cardiovascular health,” said Adam Bernstein, lead author of the study.

“Major Dietary Protein Sources and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women,” Adam M. Bernstein, Qi Sun, Frank B. Hu, Meir J. Stampfer, JoAnn E. Manson, Walter Willett, Circulation, August 16, 2010

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