Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts eat more protein for three main reasons, including one that is counter to the other (explained below). According to a recent study, a high-protein diet may also be good for your cardiovascular health.
By definition, cardiovascular health is health related to the circulatory system including the heart and blood vessels. A person with heart or blood pressure issues, for example, may be referred to as having a cardiovascular health issue(s).
Protein helps build lean mass, which improves metabolism, which in turn helps to lose fat. Therefore it is good for building muscle as well as losing weight.
Protein supplements are also frequently recommended and prescribed for people who need to gain weight for health reasons. Protein is therefore good for weight loss as well as (healthy) weight gain. What about cardiovascular health?
So far, certain nutritional supplements have been linked to cardiovascular health. These include omega-3, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), green tea, and even something known as nattokinase. But not protein. This, it appears, is about to change.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) recently found that certain amino acids may help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Professional bodybuilders are familiar with these, and will take especially branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements separately (in addition to protein supplements).
The researchers studied seven amino acids — arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, leucine, and tyrosine — and found that higher intakes of all seven led to lower measures of blood pressure and arterial stiffness, depending on where those high levels of amino acids came from. (See original article.)
As someone who lifts and have to be on a high protein diet, this is one more reason to indulge in the things I love to eat such as of eggs, steak, chicken, and dairy. Plus, building lean mass by itself promotes cardiovascular health. Long live protein.