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High protein food boost cardiovascular health

9 September 2015

It has previously been shown that dietary protein lowers blood pressure. A team of researchers from the Department of Nutrition at the University of East Anglia have conducted a study to further investigate this link between protein/amino acid intake and low blood pressure. The study measured a number of key indicators of cardiovascular health including pulse wave velocity (PWV) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) in 1898 female twins. Each participant filled out a food frequency questionnaire from which the quantities of 7 amino acids (arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine and tyrosine) were calculated. 

 It was found that a higher intake of all 7 amino acids contributed to the improvement of blood pressure and that amino acids from plant-based or animal-based sources had different effects. A high intake of plant-based amino acids was associated with lower MAP values while animal-based proteins (with higher levels of glutamic acid, leucine and tyrosine) were associated with lower PWV values. A difference in PWV of 0.4 m/s was found between the extreme quintiles of intake of these three amino acids which correlates to an increase of 3.53g, 1.64g and 0.76g (for glutamic acid, leucine and tyrosine respectively). This increase in amino acids can be achieved by the consumption of 500ml skimmed milk, a 100g salmon fillet or a 75g steak. Interestingly, the improvements to cardiovascular health from eating amino acid rich foods was found to be as beneficial as increased exercise or giving up smoking. 

This research shows that the increasing problem of cardiovascular disease and other heart problems may be tackled by an amino acid rich diet; eating a combination of animal-based and plant-based proteins could help prevent the risk of such diseases occurring.

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