Next time you serve a rotisserie chicken or turkey, don’t pass up the dark meat. It could protect you against heart disease.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that higher levels of taurine in women significantly lowered coronary heart disease (CHD) risk in women with high cholesterol.
These women with sufficient taurine levels were 60% less likely to develop or die from CHD compared to women with lower serum taurine levels. If you haven’t heard, heart disease is the number one cause of natural death in America. You want to take every potential measure to prevent it.
A few things I want to note about this study. Almost 80% participants were Caucasian women, so we can’t apply this information to men or even non-Caucasian women. Also worth noting is that taurine, for whatever reason, didn’t provide CHD protection in women with low cholesterol.
But don’t dismiss this study because it doesn’t apply to you. Other studies also confirm taurine benefits heart health.
An overview in the appropriately titled Experimental and Clinical Cardiology, for instance, describes numerous experimental and several clinical studies that show taurine boosts cardiovascular health by, for instance, improving lipid profile and acting as a powerful antioxidant.
Now, at this point you’re either really fascinated with these studies or wondering what the heck taurine is, so let me explain.
Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that your body requires for numerous functions. Among its many roles, taurine maintains a healthy immune system, helps your gallbladder produce adequate amounts of bile, and contributes to optimal glucose metabolism.
I recommend taurine in The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth for its anti-bloating abilities as part of my PMS cocktail.
Taurine also works as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
You get my point: you want optimal amounts of taurine to get its numerous benefits.
Now, here’s the deal. Taurine is classified as a conditionally essential nutrient, which means theoretically your body can synthesize adequate amounts with enough vitamin B6 as well as the amino acids methionine and cysteine.
I say theoretically, because vegetarians and people with certain illnesses don’t always make enough taurine and aren’t getting it in their diets. Rich dietary sources of taurine include shellfish like claims and oysters as well as meat, so it’s no surprise vegetarians sometimes become deficient.
Energy drinks like Red Bull have popularized taurine. Combined with other ingredients like caffeine and ginseng, taurine can potentially boost athletic performance and brain function.
But studies here are mixed. One in the journal Amino Acids, for instance, found taurine-containing drinks like Red Bull can boost mental performance and mood. A later study in that same journal, however, found these drinks have no effect on short-term memory.
I’m not a huge fan of energy drinks, and I certainly don’t think they’re the best way to get taurine.
Even if you’re eating enough meat and other taurine food sources, you might consider supplementing to get therapeutic amounts of this important amino acid.
Depending on your needs, I want to recommend two products:
- Taurine 1000mg from Designs for Health, which provides a therapeutic gram of this amino acid to fight inflammation, boost heart health, and all the other great things taurine does.
- Lipoic Synergy (also from Designs for Health) is a great formula that combines 200 mg of taurine with the powerful antioxidant lipoic acid and the B-vitamin biotin. If you want to balance blood sugar and support your liver, try Lipoic Synergy.
- Bichler A, et al. A combination of caffeine and taurine has no effect on short term memory but induces changes in heart rate and mean arterial blood pressure. Amino Acids. 2006 Nov;31(4):471-6.
- Lourenço R, et al. Taurine: a conditionally essential amino acid in humans? An overview in health and disease. Nutr Hosp. 2002 Nov-Dec;17(6):262-70.
- Seidl R, et al. A taurine and caffeine-containing drink stimulates cognitive performance and well-being. Amino Acids. 2000;19(3-4):635-42.
- Wójcik OP, et al. Serum taurine and risk of coronary heart disease: a prospective, nested case-control study. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Feb 10.
- Xu YJ, et al. The potential health benefits of taurine in cardiovascular disease. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2008 Summer;13(2):57-65.