High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the major risk factors for developing heart disease such as heart attack or stroke. Medical reports have been divided when determining whether a vegetarian diet could influence blood pressure.
Researchers from Osaka in Japan have attempted to investigate the relationship between a vegetarian diet and blood pressure by analysing seven clinical trials and 32 observational studies. The report was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
For the purpose of the review, a vegetarian diet was defined as excluding meat but including dairy products, fish and eggs. The meta-analysis concluded that a vegetarian diet was associated with lower blood pressure when compared to an omnivorous diet.
Vegetarianism has been linked to having a lower body weight, lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of developing cancer and living longer.
The researchers found that the systolic blood pressure, the pressure in the arteries as the heart beats, was lower in vegetarians in both the clinical trials and observational studies.
The difference in blood pressure between vegetarians and omnivores is enough to decrease the risk of death from heart disease or stroke by 9% and 14% respectively.
The report’s authors said: "Further studies are needed to explore the relationships between specific foods and nutrients and blood pressure.
“Nevertheless, the results of the meta-analysis of the controlled trials suggest a robust relationship between consumption of vegetarian diets and lower blood pressure."
The researchers noted that many factors that could haver affected the results such as the definition of vegetarianism varying from person to person and country to country.
Health insurance premiums can be lowered by adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle, including eating more fruit and vegetables.
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