Scientists analyzed the impact of seven amino acids among 2,000 women with a healthy BMI and used data obtained from TwinsUK, the biggest UK adult twin registry of 12,000 twins.
Research participants who consumed the highest intake of amino acids from plant based sources had lower blood pressure and lower arterial stiffness. “Beneficial daily amounts included protein levels equivalent to a 75g portion of steak, a 100g salmon fillet or a 500ml glass of skimmed milk.
“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 Dr Amy Jennings, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “This research shows a protective effect of several amino acids on cardiovascular health.
“Results from previous studies have provided evidence that increased dietary protein may be associated with lower blood pressure. 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.
“We studied seven amino acids — arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine, and tyrosine. Glutamic acid, leucine, and tyrosine are found in animal sources, and a higher intake was associated with lower levels of arterial stiffness.
“All seven amino acids, and particularly those from plant-based sources, were associated with lower blood pressure.
“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. For arterial stiffness, the association was similar to the magnitude of change previously associated with not smoking.
“High blood pressure is one of the most potent risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. A reduction in blood pressure leads to a reduction in mortality caused by stroke or coronary heart disease — so changing your diet to include more meat, fish, dairy produce and pulses could help both prevent and treat the condition.
“Beneficial daily amounts equate to a 75g portion of steak, a 100g salmon fillet or a 500ml glass of skimmed milk,” she said.
A. Jennings, A. MacGregor, A. Welch, P. Chowienczyk, T. Spector, A. Cassidy. Amino Acid Intake Is Inversely Associated with Arterial Stiffness and Central Blood Pressure in Women. Journal of Nutrition, 2015; DOI: 10.3945/%u200Bjn.115.214700