Bulk up, help your heart:
Eating a high-protein diet can keep your blood pressure lower, finds new research from Boston University School of Medicine.
In the study, people who ate the most protein—just over 100 grams a day—were 40 percent less likely to develop high BP over an average follow-up of 11 years than those who consumed the least (58 grams on average).
One possible reason: Both plant and animal sources of protein contain arginine, an amino acid that helps dilate your blood vessels, thus reducing your blood pressure, says study author Justin Buendia, Ph.D (c). Plus, related molecules called peptides, which are found in milk and fermented dairy products, have also been shown to have similar effects in animal studies.
Additionally, the study found that adding a high amount of fiber to a protein-rich diet showed even greater BP-lowering power. That might be because foods with a lot of fiber control the amount of glucose (you know it as blood sugar) in your blood. And too much glucose floating around could damage your blood vessels, says Buendia.
Here’s the good news: The average guy already meets the amount of protein consumed in the “high” group, according to 2010 research from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. But just make sure you’re making the most of your protein picks.
That means getting it from a variety of places, since different foods help your blood pressure through different pathways. Choose both natural animal sources—think eggs, dairy, chicken, fish, or lean beef—and plant sources like chickpeas and other legumes, which add a punch of fiber as well, says Buendia