Steak lovers rejoice - your taste for the high-protein meat might just help you ward off a heart attack.
A new US study has found that a diet rich in protein means a much lower risk of high blood pressure. People who consumed 102g of protein a day were found to have a 40 per cent lower chance of developing high blood pressure than people who ate half this amount. If you need help picturing this - 120g is about four beef steaks a day.
Fibre is also a good bet - a diet high in both protein and fibre could even reduce the risk of high blood pressure by 59 per cent.
Published in the American Journal of Hypertension, the new study tracked 1 361 people for an average of 11,3 years and kept an eye on whether they developed high blood pressure. It was found that both plant and animal proteins were effective. It was also beneficial for both men and women and people of any weight.
The theory is that eating a lot of protein might mean we feel fuller sooner, which leads to less of an interest in gorging on high-calorie foods.
Study author Justin Buendia, a PhD candidate at Boston University School of Medicine, told Yahoo news: "It may be that people who eat more protein have healthier diets in general.
"With higher protein consumption, you may eat less of other high-calorie foods. You may feel full sooner, and that would lead to lower weight, which would lead to beneficial metabolic outcomes, such as lower blood pressure."
The amino acids in protein could also be a reason for lower blood pressure. Amino acid aginine can be found in products like eggs and may help dilate blood vessels.
"Having an egg or some milk for breakfast is probably a good way to start the day. In terms of snacking, instead of going for a bag of chips or bread, have yogurt or a piece of cheese or a small handful of nuts," he advised.
But, as with anything, don't take things too far. Conflicting studies have found a diet overly rich in animal proteins could mean you are four times as likely to die of cancer. So just make sure you are keeping your diet varied and including some protein in at least one of your meals every day.
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