If you have been looking for a way to improve your heart health or lower cholesterol, then you may want to add more protein to your diet. A surprising new study shows high protein foods can boost your cardiovascular health (even more than quitting smoking).

Amino Acids Are Good for Your Heart

The focus of the study, published August 27, 2015 and carried out by researchers at the University of East Anglia, was on the effects of eating foods that are rich in amino acids.

The findings suggest that eating a diet that is rich in amino acids can help your heart as much as quitting smoking or adding more exercise to your routine. People who eat certain meats and plant-based foods that contain a high level of amino acids tend to have lower blood pressure, heart health, and arterial stiffness.

By consuming the right amount of amino acids, people could reverse the effects of high salt intake, smoking cigarettes, lack of physical activity, and alcohol consumption.

Details of the Study

Researchers looked specifically at seven amino acids and the effect that they have on the cardiovascular health of individuals. To perform this study, researchers examined the health records of 2,000 women that had a healthy body mass index (BMI).

By studying their diets and looking at blood pressure and blood vessel measurements, they found that the women that consumed the highest levels of these 7 amino acids had lower blood pressure and less cardiovascular related illnesses.

Meat versus Plant-Based Foods

During this study, they also found that the source of the amino acids affects the health benefits. Those that consumed more plant-based foods were more likely to have lower blood pressure, while those that consumed more animal protein had lower levels of arterial stiffness.

But they 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.

Lead researcher Dr. Amy Jennings, stated, “We wanted to know whether protein from animal sources or plant-based sources was more beneficial — so we drilled down and looked at the different amino acids found in both meat and vegetables:

Of the 7 amino acids studied – glutamic acid, leucine, and tyrosine are commonly found in certain high-protein meats. These amino acids had the biggest impact on arterial stiffness and increased risks of heart disease. All 7 of the amino acids, which also included arginine, cysteine, glycine, and histidine, were associated with improved cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure.

Researchers were most amazed to discover that the health benefits of consuming these 7 amino acids were so great that they are comparable to the negative effects of consuming too much salt, drinking alcohol, and other bad habits. If more people were able to get the required amino acids in their foods, there could be fewer cases of heart related illnesses and deaths.

By making a small change to your eating habits, you could improve your cardiovascular health. Adding more meat, dairy, fish, and produce with high levels of the studied amino acids can lower your blood pressure, improve blood circulation, and improve your overall cardiovascular health. Start helping your heart by getting your fill of foods that are rich in amino acids.



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