ISLAMABAD: According to recent research, older women eating high-protein diet could be more harmful than helpful; researchers suggest it may raise their risk of heart failure, particularly if the majority of protein comes from meat.

The researchers looked at subjects' total daily protein intake, as well as the total amount of daily protein consumed from meat and vegetables.

The researchers note that self-reported dietary data can be inaccurate, so they also used biomarker data to get a more reliable indication of participants' protein intake. This involved assessing subjects' urinary nitrogen and doubly labeled water levels - a measure of metabolism.

Compared with women who had low total protein intake, those who had a higher total protein intake were found to be at much greater risk of heart failure. The risk was greater among women who consumed most of their protein from meat.

The results remained after accounting for age, race/ethnicity, education level, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, anemia, and arterial fibrillation.

The researchers did uncover an association between high intake of vegetable proteins and lower risk of heart failure, but when the team accounted for body mass index (BMI), this result was not statistically significant.

The team warns that the findings should be interpreted with caution and further research is required, but they do suggest a high-protein diet may be linked to heart failure.

Dr. Mohamad Firas Barbour said that "Higher calibrated total dietary protein intake appears to be associated with substantially increased heart failure risk while vegetable protein intake appears to be protective, although additional studies are needed to further explore this potential association."

"Heart failure is highly prevalent, especially in postmenopausal women; therefore, a better understanding of nutrition-related factors associated with heart failure is needed," adds Dr. Barbour.