Is taurine good for your heart?

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Taurine isn’t one of those minerals that get the spotlight in health news. It’s usually passed over in favor of other, better-known amino acids like homocysteine or tryptophan. But taurine has an important job to do when it comes to the proper functioning of your body.

High concentrations of this amino acid are found in your heart muscle, skeletal muscle, nervous system and white blood cells. Researchers at the Institute for World Health Development in Nishinomiya, Japan, investigated taurine for a possible beneficial role in the prevention of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

For their study, which was coordinated by the World Health Organization, the research team reviewed surveys pertaining to diet in 61 different Japanese populations. In particular, they collected data related to cardiovascular disease risk and mortality.

They found that participants with higher taurine levels had significantly lower body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol when compared with those having the lowest taurine levels. Cardiovascular risks were intensified in individuals whose taurine and magnesium levels were lowest. The researchers noted that taurine may beneficially affect those who experience salt-sensitive blood pressure rise.

The research team concluded that the preventative effects of taurine make it good for health and longevity. They also cite the example of Australian Aboriginals who live near the coastal areas in Victoria. These peoples traditionally ate taurine- and magnesium-rich foods and were free from the ravages of cardiovascular disease 200 years ago.

Presently, though, this population has nearly the highest cardiovascular risks because of dietary changes. 200 years ago they were eating seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and milk — a diet similar to that of prehistoric hunters’ and gatherers’ and high in taurine.

To boost your nutritional health, add these taurine-rich foods to your diet: eggs; fish; meat; and milk.

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