When the benefits of high protein foods are discussed in the media, the majority of articles are focused on men who work out and want to build muscle mass.
Is Female Heart Health Overlooked?
I was actually shocked when I was researching this article to discover that women are rarely mentioned in “pro protein” information. It is an incredible oversight since your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body…and more women die every year of heart disease than men. Women are universally ignored when it comes to the dangers of heart disease!
Recently published results from a study conducted by the University of East Anglia linked a higher intake of protein to less stiffening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) and lowering high blood pressure (hypertension).
Their findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, was very clear. Increased protein (and the amino acids they contain) was as beneficial to study participants as taking up exercise, decreasing alcohol, or quitting tobacco use.
High-protein food benefits are usually directed to men who are considered the “muscle-havers” and “meat-eaters.”
Breaking Down the Science
Approximately 2,000 women with healthy body mass index (BMI) had their diets and lifestyle habits analyzed. Those who consumed seven crucial amino acids had the greatest heart health. The types of proteins they included in their daily diet had different effects.
- Plant-based proteins had a higher impact on blood pressure control.
- Animal-based proteins helped keep arteries supple and aided in blood pressure control.
This research, caught up in the wave of new science confirming that you need healthy fats in your diet in order to function, is going to help change the way we view food in regards to our overall health.
UEA’s Norwich Medical School lead researcher, Dr. Amy Jennings, explained, “This research shows a protective effect of several amino acids on cardiovascular health. 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 7 Critical Heart Health Amino Acids Studied
- Tyrosine (specifically an animal-based protein)
- Glutamic acid (specifically an animal-based protein)
- Leucine (specifically an animal-based protein)
“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, and produce could help both prevent and treat the condition,” Dr. Jennings stated.
The 12 Absolute Best Sources of Protein
- Eggs (the entire thing…don’t believe the hype!)
- Cashews, almonds, peanuts, and peanut butter
- Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, and milk
- Salmon, tilapia, tuna, sardines, shrimp, and crab
- Chicken and turkey
- Lean pork and Canadian bacon (avoid processed pork products)
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Coconut oil, milk, and meat
- Beef and bison (avoid processed varieties)
- Quinoa, wheat germ, and hemp
- Lentils, navy beans, black beans, and hummus
- Broccoli, kale, spinach, green peas, avocados, and Brussels sprouts
Overall, your body requires beneficial high-protein foods to function properly.
Your muscles (including your heart muscle) in particular need to get adequate amounts. Eating enough protein in your regular diet fuels your muscles, aids in weight control (especially getting rid of stubborn belly fat), protects your bones, and feeds your brain.
12 Signs of Protein Deficiency
- Fatigue despite adequate sleep or inability to get quality sleep
- General muscle weakness or pain
- Joint weakness or pain
- Slower injury recovery
- More frequent colds and illness
- Increased allergen sensitivity
- Hair loss, skin deterioration, and weak nails
- Mood swings, feelings of anxiety, or depression
- Inability to focus or slower cognitive function
- Constant food cravings due to unstable blood sugar
- Feeling hungry more often
- Swelling of the hands, feet, or face (edema)
Other signs that you might not be getting enough protein in your diet include headaches, nausea, and inability to handle temperature changes.
Interesting Facts about Protein
- Proteins are found in every cell in your body. You cannot live without these building blocks. They are made up of long chains of amino acids.
- There are 9 amino acids that your body cannot produce and must get from your diet.
- They are responsible for building muscle and bones.
- Collagen and keratin are proteins that maintain the health of your hair, skin, and nails.
- Proteins are the second most plentiful compound in the body. Water is the first.
- Your antibodies are also a form of protein. Without them, your immune system suffers.
- Nutrient transport relies on the various proteins in your body. They are the primary delivery system of vitamins, minerals, and oxygen (via the protein hemoglobin in red blood cells).
- Proteins maintain pH levels, which help to prevent or ease several chronic conditions.
- Eggs have the highest quality of dietary protein of all known foods.
- Increasing protein intake to 30% of your daily eating plan aids weight loss and helps you feel full and satisfied far longer.
There is no end to the benefits of high protein foods. Evaluate your diet and see if there are changes you can make right now to up your intake.
Heart health (for both men and women) depends on it.