Lifestyle Changes

Protein and Heart Health

Protein is found throughout the body and is part of every biochemical function in the human body. Protein plays a critical role in growth, development, and tissue repair. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10% to 35% of your daily calories should come from protein. That equates to approximately 46 grams of protein for adult women and 56 grams of protein for men.

While a diet rich in protein is important, the source of that protein is critical to maintaining a heart healthy diet. Below are recommendations on the healthiest foods to consume protein:

  • Legumes (Beans and Peas) such as black beans, garbanzo beans and split peas are rich in protein. Eating beans has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease
  • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and cashews are all heart healthy options that are packed with protein
  • Fish and shellfish provide heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week
  • Poultry and turkey have less calories and saturated fat than red meat

While protein is critical to our health, too much of some types of protein can be harmful. Diets high in red and processed meats contain high amounts of saturated fat which may lead a higher risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. A diet rich in plant-based proteins may not carry the same risks but provide the recommended daily calories from protein. According to the National Academy of Medicine, the average adult should have just over seven grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight.

If you are planning to increase or decrease the amount of protein in your diet, it is recommended you speak with your physician before making any changes to your diet.

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