The recent study on the customers of the US Health Professionals shows that the intake of animal protein may have a weak link to heart diseases. The research shows that the plant protein has lesser chances to cause problems for the heart. Though there are other potential reasons that ultimately lead to the heart problems, the protein intake has a higher significance here. So the conclusion they hint at is that animal protein might be causing damage to heart health. It is healthier to swap the animal protein for plant protein that can boost the heart health.
Animal protein and plant protein
Animal protein has been the major source of protein for the majority of the population. It contains higher protein as well as the complete proteins. Complete proteins mean having all the essential amino acids in the diet. But the animal sources may also have the higher amount of these essential amino acids that can have damaging effects. This is the primary way the animal protein is bad for the heart health. Moreover, the animal protein contains only the protein and the fat.
Plant protein mainly comes from the fiber-rich pulses and beans. Whatever protein present here would be not only sufficient but also come with other nutrients. The plant protein sources will have other nutrients such as fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
The damaging effects of animal protein on the heart
There is no fiber in animal protein
Fiber has its importance in the health. It reduces so many risk factors. It can help the heart by lowering the cholesterol level, blood pressure and can even reduce the risk of stroke. Animal protein lacks this factor and that poses a slight increase in these risk factors.
On the other hand, the plant protein mainly involves pulses, beans etc. These are abundant in not just protein but also contain a high amount of fiber. These are soluble fibers that directly benefit the heart. Soluble fiber can eliminate the bad cholesterol from the blood.
Animal protein and inflammations
Higher intake of animal intake can cause higher levels of trimethylamine N-oxide or TMAO. This is a substance that can damage the blood vessel linings. It can cause inflammations and can also promote cholesterol plaque formations in the arteries. The animal protein can alter the gut bacteria to make way for the higher production of this substance. This alone is sufficient to cause damage to the heart.
The dangers of higher phosphorus levels
Animal protein contains high amount of phosphorous. Our body will have to work harder balance this disparity. The only way it finds is to produce a hormone named fibroblast that damages the blood vessels. It can also cause enlarged cardiac muscles leading to heart attacks and even death.
Animal protein triggers more free radicals
Animal protein contains iron in it. This is known as heme iron. Having too much animal protein brings in too much of heme iron. The abundance of this iron can cause the conversion of the less reactive oxidants in the body into damaging free radicals. These free radicals can cause structural damage to the cells and can also lead to the formation of carcinogens.
Animal protein and cholesterol
This is the most damaging effect of animal protein. All animal protein comes with some amount of cholesterol and fat. Even if we choose the low-fat protein, you are still having the saturated fats. Only the amount varies in each source. Cholesterol is something that our body can prepare itself. We need not have it form the diet. The less cholesterol we take from the diet, the better.
Animal protein comes with cholesterol. This can cause an elevation in the cholesterol level gradually, especially when the intake is higher per day. This can lead to plaque formation in the arteries. Though this is a reversible condition, when there are other damaging effects from animal protein, this simply adds to the risks.
Does the plant protein boost the heart health?
There may not be a real boosting effect on heart health, directly by the plant protein. But it definitely has positive effects on the events that lead to a healthier heart. At the same time, the animal protein does have some direct damaging effects on the heart health.
Is it necessary to swap the animal protein for plant protein?
Though there is definite damage by animal protein and conclusive benefits of having plant protein, there is no need for a complete swap from animal to plant-based protein. What we can do is to replace the same with at least one meal or 2 if you want, to have the positive effects.
It would also help to compensate the animal protein with the addition of some fiber-rich vegetables to negate the bad effects. Our body needs only 56 gm of protein for men and 46 gm for women, per day. This amount is exceeded in a slice of 100 gm of meat or 2 large eggs. So basically you just need one serving of protein per day to meet the daily requirements.
The ideal solution is to have one serving of animal protein every other day. You could even opt for a larger serving once per week for a higher portion.
Animal protein is definitely the fastest way to get more protein into the body. Plant protein may be slightly lower in the protein amount in comparison; it has long-term benefits when compared to the other. The bad effects of animal protein are higher only when it is consumed in higher amount or when coupled with other risk factors that causing heart problems. If you think you are at risk, opt for the plant-based protein which is a lot healthier. Opting plant-based protein can also have other benefits like weight management, lower cholesterol and lower risk of heart problems. Animal protein can have the opposite effects of all these three factors. Choose wise, choose healthy and stay healthy!