Poultry consumption could cut heart disease risk

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Poultry

Poultry consumption could cut heart disease risk
A new study has suggested that women with high cholesterol could protect themselves against coronary heart disease (CHD) by eating more poultry.

During the study, which was published in the European Journal of Nutrition, scientists from the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine looked at the effects of taurine, a naturally-occurring nutrient found in dark poultry meat and some seafood, on CHD in women.

Using data from the NYU Women’s Health Study, which studied the dietary habits, physical activity and diesease occurrence of more than 14,000 women of 34 to 65 years of age in New York, they compared taurine levels in serum samples taken from women who went on to develop and die from CHD to serum samples from women who never showed signs of the disease.

They found that women with high cholesterol were 60% less likely to develop or die from CHD if they had higher levels of serum taurine, although the same relationship was not found in women with normal cholesterol levels. The findings also suggested a possible inverse association between serum taurine and the risk of hypertension and diabetes.

Assessing the source of serum taurine, researchers found that there was a significant positive association between higher taurine serum levels and dietary intake of poultry. “Our data indicate that poultry intake, with an average consumption of 161g/week (5.68oz/week), was the major source of taurine in our study population,”​ stated the report.

Previous studies have indicated that foods rich in sulphur-containing amino acids, such as fish, were associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (CVD), but this was the first prospective study of taurine and CHD risk. Researchers said that if the results are replicated by future studies, it could lead to dietary recommendations for women with high cholesterol at risk for CHD.

“Our findings were very interesting. Taurine, at least in its natural form, does seem to have a significant protective effect in women with high cholesterol,”​ said principal investigator Yu Chen, Phd, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology at the NYU School of Medicine, which is part of the NYU Langone Medical Center.

“If these findings are confirmed, one day we might be able to suggest that someone with high cholesterol eat more poultry, specifically dark meat.”

However, Dr Chen also pointed out that 80% of the study population were Caucasian women, so the results could not be generalised to men or other ethnic groups, and future studies should be conducted in these populations.

The researchers are now using NYUWHS data to examine the effect of taurine on the occurrence of strokes.

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