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The Food That's as Healthy as Exercise and Quitting Smoking

Researchers find amino acids in protein-rich foods lower heart disease risk factors as well working out and tossing the cigs.

We've told you all about how exercise is great for your heart while smoking is... not so much. You also probably know that too much sodium is a no-go and though certain types of alcohol are good for your heart, it's only in small amounts (too much has the opposite effect.) But, the findings of this new study was news to us: Eating plenty of protein-rich foods (packed with amino acids) might be just as good as taking up running, and ditching salt, booze, and cigs. 

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Researchers from the University of East Anglia looked at data from TwinsUK (a database of UK adult twins), and compared the impact of seven different amino acids (found in plant and animal protein) on heart health. The people who ate the most amino acids had lower blood pressure and "arterial stiffness" (a measure of the elasticity of your arteries which, when less stiff, makes it easier for your heart to get blood pumped throughout your body.) However, more research is needed to understand exactly why amino acids have this beneficial effect.

"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," lead researcher Dr. Amy Jennings said in a release

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Though all seven of the amino acids studied—arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine, and tyrosine—had a positive impact on blood pressure, plant-based sources had a particulalry strong effect, researchers say. Worried about losing the muscle building benefits of protein in exchange for the heart-healthy perks of vegetarian-protein? You don't have to. Check out these ten vegan recipes that make use of the healthiest, protein-packed vegan foods and get acquainted with the best vegan protein powders here



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