Can’t decide between chicken leg or breast for dinner? Go with dark meat, new health research suggests.
A nutrient found in the dark meat of poultry – and even some seafood -- may provide protection against heart disease in women with high cholesterol, according to the study by researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
Researchers, writing in the European Journal of Nutrition, said taurine -- a naturally-occurring nutrient found in the dark meat of turkey and chicken, as well as in some fish and shellfish – acts to boost the heart health of women with high cholesterol levels.
They noted the same association was not seen in women with low cholesterol levels and it’s unclear if the effect occurs in men.
Researchers based their findings on information collected as part of the NYU Women's Health Study, involving more than 14,000 women -- 34 to 65 years of age – whose health was tracked between 1985 and 1991.
Women in the study provided wide range of medical, personal and lifestyle information – and blood samples – that continue to be used for a variety of medical studies.
For the new taurine study, funded by the American Heart Association, researchers measured taurine levels in blood samples collected from 223 women in the study who later developed or died from coronary heart disease between 1986 and 2006. They then compared those samples to the taurine levels of 223 other study participants who had no history of cardiovascular disease.
The comparison showed women with high cholesterol who also had high levels of taurine were 60 percent less likely to develop or die from heart disease, compared to those with lower taurine levels.
The findings suggest taurine supplements or dietary recommendations may one day be suggested for women with high cholesterol at risk for heart disease
"Our findings were very interesting,” said lead researcher Yu Chen. “Taurine, at least in its natural form, does seem to have a significant protective effect in women with high cholesterol."
Coronary heart disease is the leading killer of American men and women, causing one in five deaths.