AHA logoKeeping in mind the changing lifestyle, many nutritious choices are now available which motivate people to maintain a healthy diet. Experts from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston highlighted that American women who consumed more protein-rich foods instead of red meat apparently reduced their risk of developing heart diseases.

Consuming more fresh red meat, processed red meat and high-fat dairy may augment the risk of heart disease. Experts identified that women who had two servings of red meat each day had 30 percent greater risk of developing coronary heart disease as compared to those who had half servings.

“Our study shows that making substitutes for red meat or minimizing the amount of red meat in the diet has important health benefits,” quoted Adam M. Bernstein, M.D., Sc.D., the study’s first author and post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Lower risk of coronary heart disease were seemingly related to eating more servings of poultry, fish and nuts. Scientists also highlighted that women who substituted other protein-rich foods experienced significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease. They observed around 30 percent lower risk with one serving each day of nuts, 24 percent lower risk with one serving each day of fish and 19 percent lower risk with one serving each day of poultry. Additionally, around 13 percent lower risk with one serving each day of low-fat dairy products was seen.

“There are good protein-rich sources that do not involve red meat,” Bernstein added. “You don’t need to have hot dogs, hamburgers, bologna or pastrami, which are all fresh or processed meats.”

Experts evaluated 84,136 women who were aged between 30 to 55 years. They participated in the Nurses’ Health Study which continued for over 26 years, specifically from 1980 to 2006. In addition, majority of women enlisted for the analysis were Caucasian. They examined several factors like medical history, lifestyles diet with the help of a detailed questionnaire. The dietary data consisted of a 61-item food frequency questionnaire, which was later increased to 116 food items.

Nurses were asked how frequently they had consumed a portion of each food on average during the previous year. They were surprised to find out that nine responses included from ‘never’ to ‘more than six times daily’.

The endpoint of the study was non-fatal heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease mainly from 1980 up to June 1, 2006. Experts noted 2,210 non-fatal heart attacks and 952 deaths from coronary heart disease during this specific period.

“Although this study included only women, our overall knowledge of risk factors for heart disease suggests that the findings are likely to apply to men as well. Those who are concerned and want to reduce their risk of heart disease should consider replacing red meat with other protein-rich foods including fish, poultry, low-fat dairy products and nuts,” Bernstein said.

The study apparently differs from others in the field because the analysis has a 26-year follow-up and accuracy in dietary measurements. This accuracy is mainly due to great number of cases and constant dietary questionnaires. Additionally, it also differs because of the emphasis on substitution patterns and substitution of other protein-rich foods for red meat.

These findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.