Want to lower your blood pressure? Go vegetarian

If you adopt a diet that excludes meat, but includes dairy products, eggs and fish, you might have better luck lowering your blood pressure, according to new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For years, medical experts have debated whether eating vegetarian is effective in reducing blood pressure, as studies have produced mostly conflicting results.

Yet researchers from Osaka, Japan, reviewed the findings of seven clinical trials and 32 observational studies, concluding that vegetarian diets are more closely associated with lower blood pressure than those that include meat.

Researchers offer possible explanations

The researchers claimed that vegetarians might have better blood pressure for a variety of reasons: plant-eaters tend to have lower body mass indexes and less body fat, and they also tend to eat more fiber and less fat than omnivores. And while some studies have found that eating vegetarian can lower blood pressure regardless of body weight, body weight and blood pressure are linked, the team said.

Lower alcohol consumption among vegetarians might also account for better blood pressure readings. However, five of the seven clinical trials the Osaka team analyzed included subjects that only drank moderately.

Finally, the fact that vegetarians tend to consume more polyunsaturated fats and fewer saturated fats than omnivores could explain their lower blood pressure.

The fact that not all of the studies took into account things like exercise or other lifestyle factors suggests there is a need for further research, the team concluded.

"Further studies are needed to explore the relationships between specific foods and nutrients and blood pressure," they wrote. "Nevertheless, the results of the meta-analysis of the controlled trials suggest a robust relationship between consumption of vegetarian diets and lower blood pressure."

Source: Medical News Today

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