Protein from Meat and Fish May Cause Men to Age Gracefully and Well

Mar 13, 2014 07:59 AM EDT | By Staff Writer

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While too much protein may not be good for you, it turns out that some may help you age more gracefully--at least in men. Researchers have found that older men may receive a physical, mental and social boost if they eat a diet rich in meat and fish.

The types of protein you eat are important. By eating lean proteins and fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, you can improve your diet. Eating too much steak and beef, though, may be detrimental.

In order to find out whether protein played a role in the health of older men and women, the researchers examined more than 1,000 older adults and their diets, according to WebMD. In the end, they found that men who ate the most meat and fish reduced their mental and physical decline by about 39 percent. This same trend, though, wasn't seen in women.

"It is an observational study that simply shows a relationship between protein and functional decline," said Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, in an interview with CBS News. "It does not prove cause and effect. Also, the study was conducted in Japanese men and women, not people living in the U.S."

Even keeping hits in mind, though, protein can make a big difference for older people. High-quality protein can preserve lean muscle that's lost with aging, according to HealthDay. In addition, this higher-quality protein can more easily be found in animal sources than plant sources.

Yet it's important to note that overloading protein can be harmful. As we age, our kidneys and other organs may not be able to handle excessive amounts of protein. Red and processed meat can also negatively impact the heart.

That said, this study does show that it's important to obtain healthy sources of protein as we age. IT could mean the difference between aging well and aging poorly.

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