An unfavorable lipid profile and being overweight are known mediators in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. The effect of diet, particularly high in protein, remains under discussion. Therefore, this study examines the effects of a high-protein (HP) diet on cardiometabolic health and vascular function (i.e., endothelial function, arterial stiffness, and retinal microvascular structure), and the possible association with plasma endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-related compounds in overweight participants. Thirty-eight participants (64.5 ± 5.9 (mean ± SD) years; body mass index (BMI) 28.9 ± 4.0 kg/m2
) were measured for 48 h in a respiration chamber after body-weight maintenance for approximately 34 months following weight reduction. Diets with either a HP (n
= 20) or moderate protein (MP; n
= 18) content (25%/45%/30% vs. 15%/55%/30% protein/carbohydrate/fat) were provided in energy balance. Validated markers for cardiometabolic health (i.e., office blood pressure (BP) and serum lipoprotein concentrations) and vascular function (i.e., brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation, pulse wave analysis and velocity, and retinal microvascular calibers) were measured before and after those 48 h. Additionally, 24 h ambulatory BP, plasma anandamide (AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), oleoylethanolamide (OEA), palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), and pregnenolone (PREG) were analyzed throughout the day. Office and ambulatory BP, serum lipoprotein concentrations, and vascular function markers were not different between the groups. Only heart rate (HR) was higher in the HP group. HR was positively associated with OEA, while OEA and PEA were also positively associated with total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations. Vascular function markers were not associated with endocannabinoids (or endocannabinoid-related substances). In conclusion, the HP diet did not affect cardiometabolic health and vascular function in overweight participants after completing a weight-loss intervention. Furthermore, our data indicate a possible association between OEA and PEA with TC and LDL cholesterol.
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