The benefits of high protein foods

A new study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) reveals that people who eat high levels of certain amino acids found in meat and plant-based protein have lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness.

In fact, the magnitude of the association is similar to those previously reported for lifestyle risk factors including salt intake, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking.

Almost 2 000 women studied

Researchers investigated the effect of seven amino acids on cardiovascular health among almost 2 000 women with a healthy BMI.

The study found strong evidence that those who consumed the highest amounts of amino acids had lower measures of blood pressure and arterial stiffness. Researchers also found that the food source was important – with a higher intake of amino acids from plant-based sources associated with lower blood pressure, and a higher intake from animal sources associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness.

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“This research shows a protective effect of several amino acids on cardiovascular health,” said lead researcher Dr Amy Jennings, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, “Increasing intake from protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, dairy produce, beans, lentils, broccoli and spinach could be an important and readily achievable way to reduce people’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

“All seven amino acids, and particularly those from plant-based sources, were associated with lower blood pressure,” said Dr Jennings, “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. For arterial stiffness, the association was similar to the magnitude of change previously associated with not smoking.

Reducing high blood pressure

“High blood pressure is one of the most potent risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. A reduction in blood pressure leads to a reduction in mortality caused by stroke or coronary heart disease – so changing your diet to include more meat, fish, dairy produce and pulses could help both prevent and treat the condition,” said Dr Jennings.

Dr Jennings said that beneficial daily amounts equate to a 75g portion of steak, a 100g salmon fillet or a 500ml glass of skimmed milk.

Source: University of East Anglia via

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