publish date 2022-03-12 09:18:09
Cutting out some meat has long been considered a way to lower blood pressure. But one study suggests that a vegetarian diet may actually have the opposite effect.
And while bacon, steak and sausage have long been associated with high blood pressure, researchers have found that people who don’t get enough animal protein also have an increased risk.
The study found that those who ate at least four different sources of protein were two-thirds less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who ate just two.
Vegetarians usually get their protein – essential to maintaining healthy muscles and bones – from beans or eggs.
Vegetarians have more limited choices, usually relying on lentils or tofu as sources of macronutrients.
While the study was observational and could not prove a link, scientists believe that high-quality protein from a variety of sources preserves hearing.
Protein is used by the body for growth and repair of muscles and tissues, and it is found in greater amounts in animal meat, fish and eggs.
In the latest study, experts from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou interpreted the diet and health data of 12,200 adults in China between 1997 and 2015.
Participants’ daily diet was surveyed over three consecutive days at least twice in an 18-year period.
Each person scored a score out of eight based on the combination of proteins they consumed, with one point each for whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and legumes. The researchers then compared this data with the new diagnosis of high blood pressure in participants with an average follow-up period of six years.
By the end of the study, 35% of the participants developed high blood pressure.
But those who scored four or higher on a variety of proteins were 66 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who scored just two.
The researchers said a variety of plant and animal proteins gave the lowest risk of developing high blood pressure.
Study author Dr Cianwei Chen said the findings, published in the journal Hypertension, suggest that focusing on a single source of protein can harm heart health.
“The heart-healthy message is that eating a balanced diet that contains proteins from different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help prevent the development of high blood pressure,” said Dr. Chen.
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