Healthy plant-based diet could reduce heart disease risk

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In recent research from Penn State, scientists explored the impact of diet, particularly the consumption of sulfur amino acids, on the risk of heart disease.

Reduced Sulfur Amino Acid Intake: Diets with lower levels of sulfur amino acids, which are found in protein-rich foods such as meats, dairy, nuts, and soy, were associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

Excessive Consumption by Americans: The average American consumes almost 2.5 times more sulfur amino acids than the estimated average requirement.

Role of Sulfur Amino Acids: Amino acids are fundamental components of proteins. Sulfur amino acids, like methionine and cysteine, have been recognized for their roles in metabolism and overall health.

Studies in animals have shown that restricting the intake of these amino acids can promote longevity.

Study Methodology: The researchers analyzed the diets and blood biomarkers of over 11,000 participants from a national survey.

The results indicated that those consuming fewer sulfur amino acids had a reduced risk of heart and metabolic diseases based on their blood markers.

Assessment Tools: Using data from the Third National Examination and Nutritional Health Survey, researchers derived a composite cardiometabolic disease risk score.

This score was based on levels of specific blood biomarkers, like cholesterol, glucose, triglycerides, and insulin, taken after participants fasted for 10-16 hours.

Recommended Dietary Intake: For a 132-pound individual, a suitable daily intake that meets the sulfur amino acid requirement could consist of foods such as bread, avocado, an egg, raw cabbage, tomatoes, chicken breast, brown rice, zucchini, butter, spinach, apple, pizza, and almonds.

Current Consumption Trends: The study highlighted that the intake of sulfur amino acids by the average American is significantly higher than the recommended average.

This discrepancy might be attributed to prevalent dietary habits in the U.S.

Risks with High Sulfur Amino Acid Intake: The research established a correlation between a higher intake of sulfur amino acids and increased cardiometabolic risk factors.

Except for grains, fruits, and vegetables, all types of food were associated with high sulfur amino acid consumption.

Study Limitations: The research evaluated dietary patterns and cardiometabolic risk factors only at a specific point in time. Nevertheless, there was a notable association between higher sulfur amino acid intake and cardiometabolic disease risk.


The study suggests a clear link between dietary habits, particularly the intake of sulfur amino acids, and increased blood biomarkers that indicate a heightened risk for cardiometabolic diseases.

Adopting a diet with reduced sulfur amino acid content could be instrumental in lowering the risk of heart disease.

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