Consuming protein may do wonders for your heart health too, suggests a latest study. Women who happened to eat slightly more than the recommended daily amount of protein were significantly less likely to develop atrial fibrillation (AFib), a dangerous heart rhythm disorder that can lead to stroke and heart failure.

“Women with the lowest protein intake — which was roughly equivalent to the current recommended daily amount of protein in the US — had the highest incidence of AFib, and eating a little more was protective, even after taking into account other factors that can predispose someone to develop AFib,” said the study’s lead author Daniel Gerber from Stanford University in the US.

“This modifiable risk factor for AFib may be a fairly easy way for women to potentially lower their risk,” Gerber added.

Protein forms a crucial component of a woman’s diet, especially as they age. It could help prevent frailty and loss of bone mass and lean muscle mass.

For the study, the team anyalysed data retrieved from over 99,000 postmenopausal women (median age of 64 years) from the Women’s Health Initiative Randomised Controlled Trials and Observational Study. The findings revealed that those who ate 58-74 grams of protein a day were 5-8 per cent less likely to develop AFib, but there seemed to be a ceiling effect after eating more than 74 grams, at which point the benefit was no longer statistically significant.

The data also said that of the nearly 100,000 women in the study, 21,258 (21.3 per cent) developed new AFib during the average 10-year follow up period.

The study did not include women with existing heart rhythm issues and had a two-year run-in period to be sure women didn’t have any signs of occasional AFib.

With the help of a food questionnaire, researchers assessed the protein intake. The reports were adjusted using validated urine tests to confirm how much protein was consumed.

The women were then grouped into four quartiles based on protein intake (below 58 g/day, 58-66 g/day, 66-74 g/day and below 74 g/day) and then assessed for new cases of AFib. The average protein intake was 60 grams/day, with women who ate between 58 and 74 grams a day having significantly less risk of AFib.

Even after adjusting for factors like age, ethnicity, education, cardiovascular conditions and risk factors such as body mass index, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, coronary and peripheral artery disease- the relationship remained even.

“Based on our findings, it seems that eating more protein may not only help strengthen women physically, but it may also have cardiovascular benefits in terms of reducing AFib and related death, strokes and heart failure,” Gerber said.


(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)

About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

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