Amino acids are apparently extremely beneficial to the health of the heart. A new study performed in the UK suggests that certain amino acids in some food items can enhance cardiovascular health. Furthermore, this effect has been compared to quitting smoking and indulging in more physical activities. The findings have been published in The Journal of Nutrition.
The researchers wanted to test the effects of increased protein obtained from both meat and vegetables on blood pressure.
“Results from previous studies have provided evidence that increased dietary protein may be associated with lower blood pressure,” said lead author Amy Jennings. “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.”
The amino acids analysed by the scientists included arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine, and tyrosine. These were analysed in 2,000 women with healthy BMIs.
The results showed that women with the highest intake of amino acids displayed lower BP and arterial stiffness.
“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,” said Jennings. “For arterial stiffness, the association was similar to the magnitude of change previously associated with not smoking.”
Furthermore, amino acids derived from animal sources such as glutamic acid, leucine, and tyrosine showed greater correlation with lower levels of arterial stiffness. On the other hand, those coming from vegetables were found to lower BP the most, though both types of amino acids resulted in decreased BP.
Therefore, finding the balance between vegetable and animal sources might be the ideal for the heart.
“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,” said Jennings.
But, what are the ideal serving sizes?
“Beneficial daily amounts equate to a 75 g portion of steak, a 100 g salmon fillet, or a 500 ml glass of skimmed milk,” said Jennings.