The silent killer- hypertension is strengthening its grip over a large number of populations. The condition is responsible for increasing a patient’s risk for heart attack and stroke and often shows few warning signs.
High blood pressure puts up a tough fight against the patient and refuses to subside. A new research has found that eating a vegetarian diet could help combat this disease.
Eating more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet could help lower your blood pressure, says study author Dr. Neal Barnard. You should also try to limit your sodium intake, exercise regularly and avoid drinking alcohol excessively.
Researchers studied previously published clinical trials and 32 observational studies. A total of 311 participants were involved in the clinical trials. More than 21,000 participants were assessed in the observational studies.
The researchers only used data from studies that examined the association between a vegetarian diet and blood pressure. A range of diets were studied, including semivegetarian, vegan, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian and pesco-vegetarian.
In the seven clinical trials, participants following a vegetarian diet had a systolic blood pressure that was 4.8 mm Hg lower on average than their omnivore counterparts'. The vegetarians' diastolic blood pressure was lower by an average of 2.2 mm Hg.
In the observational studies, the difference was slightly bigger. A vegetarian diet was associated with an average decrease of 6.9 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and 4.7 mm HG for diastolic blood pressure.
A healthy blood pressure is 120/80 mm HG. Previous studies have shown that each increase of 20/10 mm Hg in that number doubles the patient's risk of cardiovascular disease. But lowering that top number just 5 mm HG can reduce your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease by about 7%.
Many factors could be affecting the vegetarians' blood pressure. Vegetarian diets are often lower in sodium and saturated fats, while being higher in fibre and potassium.
Vegetarians also tend to have lower body mass indexes because fruits and vegetables are less energy dense - meaning you can eat more of them for fewer calories.
The study was published in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
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