High protein foods boost cardiovascular health in women: Study


A diet rich in protein foods – the building blocks of proteins – could be good for your heart along the same lines as quitting smoking, reducing salt and alcohol consumption and getting optimal exercise, according to a new study.

“The really surprising thing that we found is that amino acid intake has as much of an effect on blood pressure as established lifestyle risk factors such as salt intake, physical activity and alcohol consumption,” says lead author Dr. Amy Jennings of the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Meat, fish, dairy produce, beans, lentils, broccoli and spinach could lower blood pressure and reduce arterial stiffness, according to the study.

“For arterial stiffness, the association was similar to the magnitude of change previously associated with not smoking,” adds Dr. Jennings.

Data was sourced from TwinsUK, a registry of 12,000 adult twins for the purpose of studying genetic and environmental causes of diseases that occur as we age.

Working with 1,898 women who were twins and who had a healthy body mass index (BMI), Dr. Jennings and her team observed the effect of seven amino acids on their cardiovascular health.

The research team compared participants’ diets to clinical measures of blood pressure and blood vessel health, finding strong evidence that high amino acid intake is essential.

Plant-based protein sources were more strongly associated with lower blood pressure whereas meat was more strongly associated with reduced arterial stiffness, according to the study.

“We studied seven amino acids – arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine, and tyrosine,” says Dr. Jennings. “Glutamic acid, leucine, and tyrosine are found in animal sources, and a higher intake was associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness.”

High blood pressure poses a significant risk to heart health, and Dr. Jennings recommends a 75-gram portion of steak, a 100-gram salmon fillet or a 500-milliliter glass of skimmed milk per day to benefit from her study’s findings.

Clinical measures used to assess cardiovascular health included systolic blood pressure (cSBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP), augmentation index (AI) pulse wave velocity (PWV) — a measure of arterial stiffness – and intima-media thickness (IMT), a term used to describe the thickness of the two innermost layers of the arterial wall.

They found an association between a high overall intake of protein, which included the seven amino acids, and reduced cSBP, MAP and PWV.

A diet rich in glutamic acid, leucine and tyrosine from animal sources was associated with reduced PWV.

The researchers, whose study was published in the Journal of Nutrition, aim next to find out whether the mechanism involves the gut microbes.

News source: AFP

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