High blood pressure is one of the most common chronic conditions that impede the quality of life of millions of people around the globe.
High blood pressure is defined as systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher, and diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher.
Persistent high blood pressure creates a risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and kidney problems.
Despite the many modern medications, diet has also been widely discussed as an adjuvant therapy for high blood pressure, but also as a preventative measure.
Vegetarian diets, in particular, have been considered as a fitting alternative for people with high blood pressure, and a recent review explores just that.
Vegetarian diets either have a limited or non-existent animal food intake.
There are several subtypes of vegetarian diets:
- The vegan diet - plant-based only
- The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet - no meat, but may include eggs and/or dairy
- The pescovegetarian diet - may contain fish
- The semi-vegetarian diet - may contain fish and meats, but they’re taken less than once a week
Because vegetarian diets have a higher content of glutamic acid and plant-based protein that has a blood-pressure-lowering effect, is often considered to be of higher quality.
In addition, these diets have more fiber, higher antioxidant content, more potassium, and lower sodium and saturated fat content.
Since meat intake, especially red meat, is considered as the poorer choice for individuals who are at risk of developing high blood pressure, vegetarian diets are the better choice since they lower inflammation.
What Do the Results Say?
The results indicate that vegetarian diets can and do lower blood pressure significantly, and this applies to both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
This is believed to be due to the low content of total cholesterol and high content of fiber, omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, compared to the omnivorous diet.
Let’s see the details:
There are many claims that vegetarian diets can help certain chronic conditions, and it’s always helpful when these claims can be backed up with scientific data, like in this case.
This review indicated that vegetarian diets are equally good for people who are already suffering from high blood pressure, but also for people who want to prevent it and gain other health benefits.
Resource: Lee, K.W.; Loh, H.C.; Ching, S.M.; Devaraj, N.K.; Hoo, F.K. Effects of Vegetarian Diets on Blood Pressure Lowering: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1604. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061604