• A high-protein diet can be risky for the heart
  • A new study on mice confirms the risk
  • High-protein diet increases plaque buildup in arteries

High-protein diets are known to be quite beneficial for weight loss. However, there can be a major downside to it. A diet rich in proteins can result in increased chances of getting a heart attack.

According to a study published in Nature Metabolism, high-protein diets can accumulate more plaque in the arteries. In a study conducted on mice, unstable plaque started to build up inside the aorta after increasing the intake of protein.

The author of the paper, Babak Razani, an associate professor at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, stated that it is clear that high-protein diets have positive effects on weight loss, but it can also be linked to increased cardiovascular problems.

“But animal studies and some large epidemiological studies in people have linked high dietary protein to cardiovascular problems. We decided to take a look at whether there is truly a causal link between high dietary protein and poorer cardiovascular health,” Razani said.

The scientists fed the mice with high-fat and high-protein diet to induce plaque buildup. Meanwhile, some mice were given high-fat and low-protein diet for comparison.

“To see if protein has an effect on cardiovascular health, we tripled the amount of protein that the mice receive in the high-fat, high-protein diet -- keeping the fat constant. Protein went from 15% to 46% of calories for these mice,” he said.

The mice on the high protein and high-fat diet developed worse plaque buildup, almost 30 percent more than the mice on high-fat and low-protein diet.

The plaque has a mixture of cholesterol, calcium, dead cells, and fat. Earlier research done by Razani and other scientists, has revealed that immune cells, also known as macrophages, clean the plaque in arteries. However, the innards of this plaque can have adverse effects on macrophages.

The researchers discovered that plaque in high-protein mice were ‘macrophage graveyards’ with massive quantities of dead immune cells. This resulted in unstable plaque in arteries leading to cardiovascular diseases.

impending heart attack signs
impending heart attack signs Artistic Operations - Pixabay