February 13/Berlin/European Journal of Nutrition  -- A new study published in the February 9, 2012, issue of the European Journal of Nutrition suggests having a diet high in taurine may help reduce risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in women with high total serum cholesterol.

Taurine -- or chemically named 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, a molecule obtained from diet and from biosynthesis in the human body -- has already been known to be involved in bile acid conjugation, blood pressure regulation, anti-oxidation and anti-inflammation.

Oktawia P. Wójcik conducted the prospective study of women participating in the New York University Women's Health Study to see if there is any association between circulating serum levels of taurine and risk of coronary  heart disease.

Serum taurine was measured twice a year in 223 women with coronary heart disease prior to diagnosis and 223 matched controls without the disease.

Women who had high dietary intake of poultry, niacin, vitamin B1, fiber and iron were found to have high mean serum taurine while those who had high dietary intake of saturated fat were found to have low serum taurine.

Overall, there was no statistically significant association between serum taurine levels and risk of coronary heart disease in the study population.

Hoverer, when analyses were adjusted for other confounding factors, those who were in the highest tertile of serum taurine had their risk of coronary heart disease reduced by 34%, compared to those who had the lowest tertile of serum taurine.

Particularly among women who had high total serum cholesterol (equal or greater than 250mg/mL), those who had the highest serum taurine levels were 61% less likely to suffer coronary heart disease, compared to those who had the lowest.  The association was not significant among those who had low total serum cholesterol though.

The researchers said in the report,"The data suggest a possible inverse association of serum taurine with diabetes and hypertension risk."

This suggestion seems to be in disagreement with previous observations. Vegans who do not eat meat and fish have very low levels of taurine in the blood, but they rarely have hypertension or high blood pressure, diabetes or coronary heart disease.

The authors of the study concluded, "The findings suggest that high levels of taurine may be protective against CHD among individuals with high serum cholesterol levels."

Taurine is found high in the diet full of red meat, fish and poultry. Dairy products, eggs and milk are also high in protein and L-taurine. Taurine has been found to be important for proper maintenance and functioning of skeletal muscles. It is also effective in removing fatty liver deposits in rats, preventing deadly liver disease, and reducing cirrhosis in animals. Taurine can also help in regulating human blood pressure, potentially reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease such as hypertension.

One important application of taurine is found in energy drinks. This amino acid is considered generally safe when daily intake of up to 2,000mg/kg of body weight per day.

 From the February 14, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.