If you think animal foods, such as fish and meat, when you consider foods high in protein you’d be right. But these foods don’t necessarily contain protein that lead to a healthy heart. Why?
Because it is the kinds of protein found in plant-based foods - from fruits and vegetables to whole grains and beans and peas — that lead to heart-health. Here’s why.
Plant vs. Animal Protein
Studies show that plant-based protein lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol; the converse is true of animal proteins, found in dairy and meat products, which seem to raise LDLs. The key seems to be the amino acid (“building blocks” of protein) composition found in plant vs. meat-based foods. The amino acids lysine and methionene, which are higher in animal proteins, raise cholesterol levels while argentine, plentiful in plants, appears to lower cholesterol.
Where are you now?
If you’re already following a low-fat, plant-based, complex carbohydrate diet, you may further lower LDL cholesterol by increasing your protein intake to up to 25% of total calories. To do this, try including soy-based protein found in soybeans and products such as soy burgers and soy milk. They have been found to lower cholesterol and LDL levels. Keep in mind though, most Americans consume too much protein (often from high fat animal based foods), stressing the kidneys and liver and promoting bone loss. If you fit this picture, lower your protein intake by including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet. Making modifications in your diet with these high-pro possibilities can put you on the path to a healthier heart.
Larry Scherwitz, PhD and Deborah Kesten, MPH, are international lifestyle and health researchers and Certified Wellness and Cardiac coaches. They also are the award-winning authors of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, The Healing Secrets of Food, and The Enlightened Diet. Call them at 415.810.7874, or visit them at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take their FREE What’s Your Eating Style? Quiz, and to learn more about their Whole Person Nutrition Program for wellness, weight loss, coaching, and books.