Eating foods rich in amino acids – building blocks of proteins – could be as good for your heart as stopping smoking or physical exercise – researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) found.
“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,” explained lead researcher Dr Amy Jennings from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.
This research shows a protective effect of several amino acids on cardiovascular health.
The magnitude of the association is similar to those previously reported for lifestyle risk factors including salt intake, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking.
Researchers investigated the effect of seven amino acids on cardiovascular health among almost 2,000 healthy women.
They found strong evidence that those who consumed the highest amounts of amino acids had lower measures of blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
The food source was important. A higher intake of amino acids from plant-based sources was associated with lower blood pressure and a higher intake from animal sources associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness.
“Beneficial daily amounts equate to a 100 gram salmon fillet or a 500 ml glass of skimmed milk,” Jennings added in a paper appeared in the Journal of Nutrition.
The finding that eating certain meat and plant proteins are linked to healthier blood pressure is an exciting finding.
“We need to understand the mechanism to see if it is direct or via our gut microbes,” said professor Tim Spector from the department of Twin Research at King’s College London.