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Nutrition February 19, 2024

The Best Proteins For Your Heart

Written by Marc Otiora

Proteins are important nutrients for the heart and some proteins like fish, poultry, legumes, and dairy, may benefit heart health. Some studies even suggest that they can help prevent heart disease.

According to WHO, one of the most important behavioral risk factors for heart disease and stroke is an unhealthy diet. While consuming appropriate amounts of different types of proteins regularly can help with heart health, when consumed excessively, proteins like processed or red meat may negatively affect the heart by increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, as found in this study in the Circulation journal.

In this article, you will learn more about which proteins you should eat for your heart health and how much you need.

5 of the Best Proteins for Your Heart

These are the 5 proteins that are most beneficial for heart health. Read on to see how they can contribute to a healthier cardiovascular system.

1. Fish

When it comes to proteins that help in preventing cardiovascular disease, fish sits high on the list. All fish are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating at least two 3-ounce servings of fish, particularly fatty fish, per week. 

Since our bodies can’t produce omega-3 naturally, we need to eat foods that contain it. Fish is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3. Anchovies, mackerel, black cod, salmon, bluefin tuna, and striped bass are some fatty fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

2. Nuts and Legumes

Nuts and legumes are plant-based sources of proteins that are packed with other powerful nutrients like fiber, healthy fats, and a range of essential micronutrients, which are all beneficial for heart health.

An article published in 2016 suggests that nuts can help lower cholesterol. Moreover, according to more recent research, nuts can help prevent heart disease. Examples include walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and peanuts. Other heart-healthy options are natural peanut butter and other nut butter.

Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are other excellent protein options that are healthy for the heart. They are high in fiber, don’t contain any cholesterol at all, and are known to have significantly less fat than meat. This 2023 research suggests that a weekly intake of 400g of legumes reduces the risk of heart disease among other cardiovascular benefits.

3. Poultry

Poultry, such as skinless chicken and turkey, are low-fat protein sources that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease if cooked well and taken in the right proportion. Studies have shown that 100g of chicken can provide 31g of protein and 100g of turkey, 30.1g of protein. 

When choosing your options, make sure to go for ones that have lower fat content. One of the ways to ensure this is by checking how the poultry is cooked; grilled, baked, or boiled poultry are generally lower in fat than fried ones.

4. Dairy and Eggs

Dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese are considered high-quality sources of protein because they contain all essential amino acids, which our bodies cannot make on their own, therefore, the need for us to obtain them through the food we eat. When choosing dairy foods, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends looking out for the versions with lower fat.

Eggs are rich in essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, E, and B12, selenium, choline, and iron. When consumed, the impact of eggs on heart health is quite neutral, meaning that they neither increase nor decrease the risk of heart disease in most people. Notwithstanding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends egg whites over whole eggs with yolks to avoid most of the cholesterol.

Can Too Much Protein Harm Your Heart?

Whether too much protein can harm your heart is a complex question with no simple yes or no answer. It depends on several factors, including:

1. The Amount of Protein You Consume

Generally, healthy adults need around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This translates to roughly 54 grams for a 150-pound adult. However, athletes or individuals with specific health conditions might have different needs. Exceeding your requirement consistently can have potential downsides, particularly for someone with pre-existing health issues.

2. The Source of the Protein

Not all protein sources are equal. While red meat and processed meats might be linked to increased heart disease risk when consumed excessively, plant-based proteins like legumes and nuts are generally considered healthy for your heart. High saturated fat and sodium content in certain protein sources can contribute to heart health problems, regardless of the total protein intake.

3. Individual Health Factors

Other health conditions and personal risk factors might also influence how much protein is considered safe and beneficial.

Therefore, while excessive protein intake (beyond individual needs) may have potentially harmful effects on your heart, it's not a straightforward cause-and-effect relationship.


As we've explored the different protein sources and their impact on heart health, it is clear that making informed dietary choices is crucial for nurturing cardiovascular wellness. While protein serves as the building blocks for muscle repair and energy production, not all sources are created equal when it comes to heart health. 

If you are unsure about what amount of protein you need to incorporate into your daily diet, you can connect with our health experts to share your concerns and receive professional advice. Download the OneWellness App to get started.

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