Vegetarian diet may be the key to reducing the risk of heart disease. Researchers from Pennsylvania found that a diet with low content of sulphur amino acids, which are found in foods with high protein such as meat, dairy products, nuts, and soy were associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
The team also found that the average American consumes almost two and a half times more sulphur amino acids than the estimated average requirement.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Subcategory called sulfur amino acids, including methionine and cysteine, plays a different role in metabolism and health.
“For decades, it was clear that diets that restrict the content of sulphur amino acids, were useful for the longevity of animals, “said John Richie, a Professor of health Sciences at the State medical College of Pennsylvania. “This study provides the first epidemiological evidence that excess consumption of sulfur amino acids may be associated with outcomes of chronic diseases in humans“.
Ritchie led the team that studied the diet and blood biomarkers to more than 11 000 participants a national survey and found that respondents who ate foods containing less sulphur amino acids, tended to decrease the risk of cardiometabolic disease based on their blood work.
The team evaluated the data of the Third national health survey and examination. They made a summary assessment of the risk of cardiovascular diseases based on the levels of certain biomarkers in the blood of participants after 10-16 hours of fasting, including cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and insulin.
“These biomarkers indicate individual risk of disease, as well as high cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, “said Richie. “Many of these levels can be affected by long-term dietary habits of the person, leading to the test“.
Participants were excluded from the study if they reported having congestive heart failure, a heart attack or a reported change in diet because of a diagnosis of heart disease . Individuals were also excluded if they reported that consumption of sulphur amino acids in the diet below the expected average demand in the 15 mg / kg / day recommended by the Council on food and nutrition National Academy of medicine.
For a person weighing 132 pounds food choices for the day, which meets the requirement may include the average slice of bread, half an avocado, an egg, half a Cup of raw cabbage, six tomatoes, two ounces of chicken breast, Cup of brown rice, three quarter cups of zucchini, three tablespoons of butter, Cup of spinach, medium Apple, a pizza with a diameter of eight inches and a tablespoon of almonds. Nutritionists collected information on the diet of participants, making the 24-hour personal reviews. Nutrient intake was then calculated using a database on nutrients obtained through surveys of agriculture.
After accounting for body mass, the researchers found that the average consumption of sulphur amino acids was almost two and a half times higher than the estimated average requirement. Xiang Gao, associate Professor and Director of the laboratory of epidemiology nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the study published in Lancet EClinical Medicine , suggested that it might be related to trends in the average diet of people living in the United States.
“Many people in the United States adhere to a diet rich in meat and dairy products, and the estimated average requirement must meet only the needs of half of healthy people, “said Gao. “It is not surprising that a higher than average requirements, given that these foods contain higher amounts of sulfur amino acids“.
The researchers found that a higher intake of sulfur amino acids was associated with higher score of complex cardiometabolic risk after accounting for potential factors such as age, gender and history of diabetes and hypertension. They also found that a high intake of sulphur amino acids was associated with each type of food, besides grain, vegetables and fruits.
“Meat and other foods high in protein generally contain more sulfur-containing amino acids, “said Zheng Dong, the study’s lead author and a graduate of the medical College. “People who eat lots of plant foods such as fruits and vegetables will be to consume smaller quantity of sulfur amino acids. These results support some beneficial effects on health seen in those who adhere to a vegan or other plant based diets“.
Dong says that although this study evaluated only the risk factors of food consumption and cardiovascular diseases at a specific point in time, the relationship between an increased intake of sulfur amino acids and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease was strong.
“Here we saw the observed Association between certain dietary habits and higher levels of biomarkers in the blood that is subjected to a person’s risk of cardiometabolic diseases, “said Richie. “Longitudinal study would allow us to analyze whether people who eat a certain way, eventually get sick of these biomarkers“.