Meat Protein Shown to be Potentially Risky for Heart Health Compared to Protein from Nuts and Seeds

Add this to the list of reasons to eat less (or no) meat. It isn’t widely known, but the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a carcinogen, there’s legitimate concern of the antibiotics used in animals leading to negative health effects, and the U.S. no longer has a meat origin labeling law. Actually, since 2017, imported meat is allowed to be labeled as a product of the USA, a real “America first” policy if there ever was one.

A study conducted by researchers in California and France has found that meat protein is associated with a sharp increased risk of heart disease while protein from nuts and seeds is beneficial for the human heart.

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The study, which was published online today by the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that people who consumed large amounts of meat protein experienced a 60-percent increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD), while people who consumed large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds experienced a 40-percent reduction in CVD.

The study, which included data from more than 81,000 participants, is one of the few times detailed sources of animal protein have been examined jointly with animal fat in a major investigation.

Gary Fraser, MB ChB, PhD, from Loma Linda University, and François Mariotti, PhD, from AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, served as co-principal investigators.

“While dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may also have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk,” Fraser said. He added that he and his colleagues have long suspected that including nuts and seeds in the diet protects against heart and vascular disease, while red meats increase risk.

Research Finds Where the Earliest Signs of Alzheimer’s Occur in the Brain

This discovery has considerable potential for stopping the devastation Alzheimer’s often induces in those who develop the disease.

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have for the first time convincingly shown where in the brain the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s occur. The discovery could potentially become significant to future Alzheimer’s research while contributing to improved diagnostics.

In Alzheimer’s, the initial changes in the brain occur through retention of the protein, ?-amyloid (beta-amyloid). The process begins 10-20 years before the first symptoms become noticeable in the patient.

In Nature Communications, a research team headed by Professor Oskar Hansson at Lund University has now presented results showing where in the brain the initial accumulation of ?-amyloid occurs. It is in the inner parts of the brain, within one of the brain’s most important functional networks — known as the default mode network.

“A big piece of the puzzle in Alzheimer’s research is now falling into place. We previously did not know where in the brain the earliest stages of the disease could be detected. We now know which parts of the brain are to be studied to eventually explain why the disease occurs,” says Sebastian Palmqvist, associate professor at Lund University and physician at Skåne University Hospital.

The default mode network is one of several networks, each of which has a different function in the brain. It is most active when we are in an awake quiescent state without interacting with the outside world, for example, when daydreaming. The network belongs to the more advanced part of the brain. Among other things, it processes and links information from lower systems.

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The difficulty of determining which individuals are at risk of developing dementia later in life, in order to subsequently monitor them in research studies, has been an obstacle in the research world. The research team at Lund University has therefore developed a unique method to identify, at an early stage, which individuals begin to accumulate ?-amyloid and are at risk.

The method combines cerebrospinal fluid test results with PET scan brain imaging. This provides valuable information about the brain’s tendency to accumulate ?-amyloid.

In addition to serving as a roadmap for future research studies of Alzheimer’s disease, the new results also have a clinical benefit:

“Now that we know where Alzheimer’s disease begins, we can improve the diagnostics by focusing more clearly on these parts of the brain, for example in medical imaging examinations with a PET camera,” says Oskar Hansson, professor at Lund University, and medical consultant at Skåne University Hospital.

Although the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s become noticeable to others much later, the current study shows that the brain’s communication activity changes in connection with the early retention of ?-amyloid. How, and with what consequences, will be examined by the research team in further studies.