We’ve all been caught in the trap of eating the same three meals over and over again. When life gets hectic, regressing to your comfort foods is a natural reaction. However, if you’re preparing the same two proteins on a regular basis, according to a new research published in Hypertension, it may be time to experiment with adding some new kinds of food into your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
The researchers looked at data from more than 12,000 participants who took part in two or more rounds of the China Nutrition and Health Survey. Researchers wanted to examine whether high blood pressure was linked to the amount and kind of proteins eaten by study participants from eight main dietary sources. (Participants were on average 41 years old.)
The participants were asked to maintain a food diary for three consecutive days and calculate their protein intake by looking at the number of protein sources included in each meal (including fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes, refined grains, poultry and processed and unprocessed red meat).
What were the findings? “Among individuals who consumed ‘the perfect amount’ of protein, those eating the most variety had the lowest blood pressure,” states John Higgins, MD. Those who consumed the least and most protein were both 66 percent more likely to develop high blood Pressure over time, while those that ate the most varied types of protein were 66 percent less likely to suffer from hypertension during survey rounds.
Despite the survey’s findings, which appear complex, the conclusion is straightforward: “Consuming a well-balanced diet that includes proteins from various distinct sources rather than concentrating on a single type of dietary protein might help to prevent high blood pressure development,” Xianhui Qin, MD, one of the study authors, said in a press release. In other words: Mix it up! Try something new with your protein wheel of fortune.
If you’re not sure where to start boosting your protein intake, Dr. Higgins advises looking at your consumption on a daily basis. “The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 5.5 ounces of protein each day, about one to two servings, from healthy sources such as plants, seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and some lean meats and poultry,” he adds. “Lean meats, such as chicken and fish, are excellent sources of protein. Beans, soy or tofu, whitefish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and low-fat dairy items are also great proteins. Proteins that say ‘hydrogenated’ on the label or include a lot of trans fats or saturated fat should be avoided.”
There’s always space in your diet for less nutritious proteins if you want to lose weight. However, try to include these lean sources as often as possible, and ask your doctor if you have any concerns regarding dietary habits that are appropriate for your particular health situation and family history.