A low intake of sulfur amino acids in a plant-based diet is linked to a lower risk of heart disease


Posted in Lancet EC Clinical Medicine, A new study by researchers at Penn State concluded that diets containing reduced sulfur amino acids – found in foods high in protein, such as meats, dairy products, nuts and soy – are associated reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

The team also found that the average American consumes almost two and a half times more sulfur amino acids than the average estimated needs.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. A subcategory, called sulfur amino acids, including methionine and cysteine, play various roles in metabolism and health.

“For decades it has been understood that diets restricting sulfur amino acids are beneficial for the longevity of animals,”said John Richie, professor of public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. “This study provides the first epidemiological evidence that excessive dietary intake of sulfur amino acids may be linked to chronic disease outcomes in humans.”

Richie led a team that looked at the diets and blood biomarkers of more than 11,000 participants in a national study and found that participants who ate foods containing less sulfur-containing amino acids tended to have a reduced risk. of cardiometabolic disease based on their blood tests.

The team assessed data from the Third National Review and the Nutritional Health Survey. They compiled a composite cardiometabolic disease risk score based on the levels of certain biomarkers in the participants’ blood after a 10 to 16 hour fast, including cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and insulin.

“These biomarkers are indicative of an individual’s risk of disease, just as high cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,”Richie said. “Many of these levels can be affected by a person’s long-term eating habits before the test.”

Participants were excluded from the study if they had reported congestive heart failure, a heart attack, or a reported diet change due to a heart disease diagnosis. Individuals were also omitted if they reported dietary sulfur amino acid intake below the estimated average requirement of 15 mg / kg / day recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Medicine.

For a person weighing 132 pounds, one-day food choices that meet the requirements may include one medium slice of bread, half an avocado, one egg, half a cup of raw cabbage, six cherry tomatoes, two ounces of brisket. chicken, a cup of brown rice, three quarters of a cup of zucchini, three tablespoons of butter, a cup of spinach, a medium apple, an eight inch diameter pizza, and a tablespoon of almonds. Nutritionists collected information about the diet of participants by performing 24-hour in-person reminders. Nutrient intakes were then calculated using the United States Department of Agriculture Survey Nutrient Database.

After taking body weight into account, the researchers found that the average sulfur amino acid intake was almost two and a half times higher than the estimated average requirement. Xiang Gao, associate professor and director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Laboratory at Penn State University and co-author of the study, suggested that this could be due to trends in the average diet of a person living in the United States.

“Many people in the United States eat a diet rich in meat and dairy products and the estimated average needs should meet the needs of only half of healthy individuals.”Gao said. “Therefore, it’s no surprise that many exceed average requirements when you consider that these foods contain higher amounts of sulfur-containing amino acids.”

Researchers found that a higher intake of sulfur amino acids was associated with a higher composite cardiometabolic risk score after accounting for potential confounding factors such as age, gender, and a history of diabetes and diabetes. ‘hypertension. They also found that a high intake of sulfur amino acids was associated with all types of food except grains, vegetables and fruits.

Zhen Dong, lead author of the study and a graduate of the College of Medicine, said: “Meats and other foods high in protein are generally higher in sulfur amino acids.

“People who eat a lot of plant-based products like fruits and vegetables will consume lower amounts of sulfur amino acids. These results confirm some of the health benefits seen in those who eat vegan and other diets. plant-based diets. “

Dong said that although this study only assessed dietary intake and risk factors for cardiometabolic disease at one point in time, the association between increased intake of sulfur amino acids and the risk of cardiometabolic disease. was strong. She said the data supports the formation of a prospective, longitudinal study assessing sulfur amino acid intake and health outcomes over time.

“Here, we observed an association between certain eating habits and higher levels of blood biomarkers that put a person at risk for cardiometabolic disease,” Richie said.

“A longitudinal study would allow us to analyze whether people who eat in a certain way end up developing the diseases for which these biomarkers indicate a risk.”

Source: Lancet EC Clinical Medicine

Dong. Z., et al

“Association between the consumption of sulfur-containing amino acids and cardiometabolic risk factors: cross-sectional results of the NHANES III”

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2019.100248


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