Eating a Diet Rich in Vitamin B3, Zinc, and Protein Could Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease, New Study Shows
It's no secret that maintaining a balanced diet can improve your overall health, but a new study reveals there are a few key vitamins and nutrients you should be working into your meal plan regularly to keep your arteries healthy: protein, zinc and vitamin B3. According to the research, which is being presented at the European Congress on Obesity from May 4 to May 7 in the Netherlands, protein, niacin (also known as vitamin B3), and zinc were linked to improvements in arterial structure and function.
To obtain their findings, the researchers—led by study author Dr. Brurya Tal and her team at The Sagol Center for the Metabolic Syndrome, Institute of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Hypertension at Tel Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel—recruited 72 adults with metabolic syndrome and obesity who had an average age of 53 at the beginning of the study. A person may receive a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome if they suffer from at list three risk factors for heart disease, including high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides. The participants agreed to a one-year program in which they would exercise regularly and stick to a nutrition plan made up largely of foods available in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, like fish, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and more.
Participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire a week before starting their diet and exercise plans and again one year later, according to the researchers. At the end of the study, the team observed participants' blood vessel flexibility—or arterial stiffness, which may put you at risk for stroke, high blood pressure, and other heart-related diseases when increased. They observed blood level flexibility using three different metrics: pulse wave velocity, common carotid artery intima media thickness, and flow mediated dilation. The researchers found that all of these measurements had improved over the course of the study.
Many of the improvements were attributed to diet, more specifically the increased consumption of niacin, which helps to dilate blood vessels. According to researchers, the participants were given a diet rich in protein, with the main source being lean dairy products, fish, poultry, and eggs. Subjects also consumed vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a moderate amount of fruits and grains throughout the year-long study. The zinc-rich foods included in the personalized meal plans were sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and meat.