Research presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in November found women over the age of 50 who ate a high-protein diet had a higher risk of heart failure.
The study analyzed the diets of 104,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 years of age over a five year period. The likelihood of developing heart failure was statistically associated with the amount of protein they consumed even after controlling for age, race, and other health conditions. The women in the study with the highest protein intake had a 60% increased risk of heart failure compared to women who had little protein in their diet.
The greatest risk was from animal protein sources. Women who had a higher vegetable protein intake (from beans, nuts, lentils, and quinoa) appeared to be protected with a reduced risk of heart failure by 20%.
Researchers speculate similar results would be seen in men, but more studies are needed.
For healthy people the USDA recommends about 46g protein for women and 56g protein for men aged 19-51+ daily, although a registered dietitian can customize protein recommendations based on your unique needs. Most Americans over-consume protein without really trying, for example one chicken breast has 54g protein.
The American Heart Association does recommend fish and poultry in small amounts for a heart healthy diet. They also encourage a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat and non-fat dairy products, nuts, legumes, and non-tropical oils.