High protein diets like Atkin’s may increase risk of heart failure, finds study

High protein diets, which have gained in popularity as food trends have turned against carbohydrates, may increase the risk of heart failure in older men by as much as 49 per cent, a study has found.

Relatively little research has been conducted on the long-term impact of wolfing down chicken breasts and steak in the name of weight loss, even though it’s central to health-fad bibles like the Atkin’s Diet and a multimillion pound supplement industry.

But a new study by Finnish researchers found that all diets involving excessive protein consumption were associated with an increased risk of heart problems.

Among middle aged and older men, those eating the the most animal protein and dairy had a risk of heart failure 43 and 49 per cent higher, respectively, than those eating the least, they found.

Men who ate the most protein, of all types, had their risk of heart failure increased by a third and those who ate the most plant protein increased it by 17 per cent – although higher plant protein intake was associated with a healthier lifestyle overall.

“As many people seem to take the health benefits of high-protein diets for granted, it is important to make clear the possible risks and benefits of these diets,” said study author Dr Jyrki Virtanen, adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland.

Heart failure means the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body to keep the tissues and organs healthy, leading to increasingly poor health and eventually death.

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