Thursday, October 22, 2015

How Is Protein Related To Heart Disease Prevention?

Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Human body uses protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals, and protein is also an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. A recent study by the University of East Anglia and King’s College London pointed out that foods high in protein could be as good for the heart as stopping smoking or getting more exercise.

The findings, which were published online July 22, 2015 in the ‘Journal of Nutrition’, revealed that people who eat high levels of certain amino acids found in meat and plant-based protein have lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness. The effect is more or less similar to making life style changes, for instance, lower salt intake, exercise regularly, cut alcohol consumption and quit smoking.

Effect of 7 amino acids (arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine, and tyrosine) on cardiovascular health were investigated among 1898 female twins aged between 18 and 75 who had healthy BMI. The data was taken from TwinsUK -- the biggest UK adult twin registry of 12,000 twins which is used to study the genetic and environmental causes of age related disease.

Researchers studied their diet and compared it to clinical measures of blood pressure and blood vessel thickness and stiffness. It was found that those who consumed the highest amounts of amino acids had lower measures of blood pressure and arterial stiffness.

While previous studies have found that increased dietary protein may be associated with lower blood pressure, they did not clearly indicate protein from plant or from animal, was more beneficial.

In the new study, researchers looked at the different amino acids found in both meat and vegetables. Higher intake of amino acids from animal sources (glutamic acid, leucine, and tyrosine) was found to be most strongly associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness, while all 7 amino acids result in lower blood pressure.

High blood pressure can lead to heart disease or stroke. Lowering blood pressure could reduce mortality caused by stroke or coronary heart disease. Changing diet to include more meat, fish, dairy produce and pulses could actually help prevent and treat heart disease and stroke.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that people should just consume as much protein as possible. In fact, the amount of proteins people should eat each day is still pretty small. According to researchers, beneficial daily amounts of proteins equate to a 75 g portion of steak, a 100g salmon fillet or a 500ml glass of skimmed milk.

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