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Research finds that replacing carbohydrates with protein appears 'heart healthy' for many

A recent Harvard Medical School study found that women with the highest protein intakes were 26% less likely to develop ischemic heart disease (IHD) than those who ate the least protein. The study, which took place over 14 years and included more than 80,000 women, also found that diets rich in protein benefited women regardless of their fat intake. The results of the Harvard study can be found in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This study flies in the face of conventional medical and nutritional opinion, which has long held the belief that diets rich in animal products may promote IHD. This study, the Harvard researchers reported, 'strongly rejects' this idea.

Dr. Frank Hu, who led the current study, said that previous research has shown that carbohydrate rich diets reduce HDL 'good' cholesterol, believed to protect the heart from disease. Replacing carbohydrates with protein, he explained, helps boost the HDL level.

The study's objective was to examine the relation between protein intake and risk of IHD. The primary endpoint was nonfatal myocardial infarction or fatal ischemic heart disease occurring between 1980 and 1994. Compared with the lowest protein-intake group, women with the highest protein intake were 26% less likely to develop IHD over the study period.



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