The potential danger lies in the fact that while beef, chicken, and dairy all contain sulfur amino acids, the study has found that consuming a large amount of these acids can lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and even have a fatal outcome.
When researchers took a look at results from almost 120,700 participants from two long-term studies, they noticed that those who were getting double the amount of sulfur amino acids that are considered reasonable "had a 12% increased annual risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 28% increased risk of dying from the condition over the 32-year study period." They also found that the bulk of the sulfur amino acids was coming from foods like beef, chicken, and dairy.
"The new research highlights that diets high in animal protein (namely surfer-containing amino acids in meat, chicken, and dairy) are linked to poorer health. And the typical American diet contains too much of these foods," Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, nutritionist in private practice, and adjunct professor at NYU tells Eat This, Not That!. Young adds, "The study also shows that a heart-healthy diet should include more fruits and vegetables, and plant proteins like beans and nuts instead of meat and dairy."
As for what the findings might mean when it comes to what you should—or shouldn't—be eating, Young explains.
"We don't need to entirely eliminate foods high in sulfur amino acids like meat and dairy, but we should focus on creating healthy dietary patterns," Young says. "We should not focus only on those amino acids but rather on creating healthy dietary patterns in general."
To find out more about creating healthy dietary habits, be sure to read 9 Healthy Eating Habits to Live Over A Century, Say Dietitians.