While heart disease remains at the top of the list of dangers associated with aging for women, scientists are slowly but consistently discovering how to beat high blood pressure and prevent heart disease. A recent article published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggest that taurine, an amino acid found in relatively high amounts in meat, fish, eggs and other foods, may be protective against heart disease in women with elevated cholesterol levels. Taurine possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Although studies have uncovered a heart benefit for the amino acid in animals, this is the first study of taurine and coronary heart disease risk in humans.
For the study*, New York University School of Medicine associate professor of epidemiology Yu Chen, PhD, MPH and her colleagues analyzed data from subjects in the NYU Women's Health Study, which included over 14,000 women between the ages of 34 to 65 from 1985 to 1991. Dr. Chen's team calculated average taurine levels measured in two pre-diagnostic serum samples from 223 participants who developed coronary heart disease and 223 women who had no history of the disease over the study's twenty year follow up period.
Although no significant relationship between taurine and coronary heart disease was found for the entire study population, when women with high cholesterol (total cholesterol greater than 250 milligrams per deciliter) were analyzed, an interesting correlation came to light. Women with high cholesterol whose intake of taurine was among the top one-third of subjects had a 61 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those in the lowest third. According to the authors, the data also suggest a protective effect for taurine against the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.
"Our findings were very interesting," commented Dr Chen. "Taurine, at least in its natural form, does seem to have a significant protective effect in women with high cholesterol."
If you’re interested in getting more taurine in your diet, consult your health care professional about increasing your intake of healthy foods like fish and lean meats.