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Eat Less Sulfur Amino Acids to Reduce Heart Disease Risk

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A plant-based diet low in such sulfur amino acid foods as meat, dairy, nuts and soy may be key to lowering the risk of heart disease, concludes a study from the Penn State University College of Medicine. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins; a subcategory called sulfur amino acids plays integral roles in metabolism. Researchers correlated diets and blood biomarkers of more than 11,000 participants from a national study and found people that ate foods containing fewer sulfur amino acids tended to have a decreased risk for cardiometabolic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. They also found that the average American consumes almost two-and-a-half times more sulfur amino acids than the estimated average requirement. “People who eat lots of plant-based products like fruits and vegetables will consume lower amounts of sulfur amino acids,” says lead author Zhen Dong, a doctor of public health.

Confirming this, a Northwestern Medicine and Cornell University study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that every two servings of red meat, processed meat or poultry per week increased cardiovascular disease risk by 3 to 7 percent. For every two servings of red meat or processed meat per week, the risk of death from any cause was increased by 3 percent. The findings, based on an analysis of six studies involving 29,682 people, contradict a controversial study published last year that recommended people not reduce the amount of red meat and processed meat they eat. “Everyone interpreted that it was okay to eat red meat, but I don’t think that is what the science supports,” says senior study author Norrina Allen, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern.
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