Looking for an easy health boost? Load up on protein!

A diet rich in amino acids—the building blocks of proteins—could drastically improve your heart health.

According to a new study out of the University of East Anglia (UEA), switching up your diet in this way—by upping intake of foods like meat, fish, dairy products, beans, lentils, broccoli and spinach—lowers blood pressure and reduces arterial stiffness.

“The really surprising thing that we found is that amino acid intake has as much of an effect on blood pressure as established lifestyle risk factors such as salt intake, physical activity and alcohol consumption,” says lead author Dr. Amy Jennings of the UEA. “For arterial stiffness, the association was similar to the magnitude of change previously associated with not smoking.”

The study also notes that plant-based protein sources are more strongly associated with lower blood pressure, whereas meat is tied to reduced arterial stiffness.

Jennings adds that high blood pressure caused by stiff arteries poses a very significant risk to heart health. She recommends a 75-gram portion of steak, a 100-gram salmon fillet or a 500-milliliter glass of skimmed milk per day to benefit from her study’s findings.