Vegetarian diets & lower blood pressure

Monday on KOAM Morning News, as part of our new, continuing series, “Morning Exam,” Tawnya Bach talked to Heather Richards, a dietitian with Mercy Hospital, about a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that links vegetarian diets with lower blood pressure.

Vegetarian Diets Lower Blood Pressure
JAMA meta-analysis shows link between diet, hypertension WASHINGTON, DC – Vegetarian diets reduce the risk of hypertension, according to new research published in JAMA Internal Medicine by Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., and researcher Yoko Yokoyama, Ph.D., M.P.H.
The meta-analysis compares blood pressure from more than 21,000 people around the world and finds study participants who follow a vegetarian diet have a systolic blood pressure about 7 mm Hg lower and diastolic blood pressure 5 mm Hg lower than study participants who consume an omnivorous diet.
“Instead of readjusting the definition for hypertension, as was done in the recent guideline revision, let’s write prescriptions for plant-based foods,” says Dr. Barnard. “Compared to antihypertensive drugs, a diet change brings only desirable “side effects,” including healthy weight loss and improved cholesterol, along with the lower blood pressure.”
Study Highlights: · A meta-analysis of 21,604 people from 32 observational studies and 311 people from seven clinical trials shows a strong association between vegetarian diets and low blood pressure. · In observational studies, vegetarian diets are associated with blood pressure readings that are, on average, 7 mm Hg and 5 mm Hg lower for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively. · The blood pressure reduction is independent of salt intake, overweight, and exercise levels. · A reduction of 5 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure leads to a 7 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality, a 9 percent reduced risk of heart disease, and a 14 percent reduced risk of stroke. · Study participants who follow a vegetarian diet typically have higher fiber and potassium intakes, lower fat intakes, lower blood viscosity, and a lower BMI, compared to study participants who follow an omnivorous diet.
The meta-analysis report also points out that: · Obesity, sodium, and alcohol consumption increase blood pressure and risk for hypertension. · Potassium intake and physical activity correlate directly with lower blood pressure. · Unsaturated fat, protein, magnesium, and dietary fiber may reduce risk for hypertension. · Hypertensive study participants who combine antihypertensive medications with a plant-based diet lower blood pressure by an average of 5/2 mm Hg in just six weeks. Source: Journal of the American Medical Association
Eight Ways to Lower Blood Pressure 1. Know Your Numbers. Aim for a total blood pressure less than 120/80 mm Hg. 2. Choose Plant-Based Foods. Vegetarian diets lower blood pressure by 7/5 mm Hg. 3. Reduce Salt Intake. Adults should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium each day. 4. Power Up with Potassium. Consume at least 4,700 mg of potassium each day by consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables. 5. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Maintain a trim waistline. Keep BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. A plant-based diet will help you get there. 6. Exercise. Participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. 7. Limit Alcohol Intake. Limit alcohol consumption. Women should consume less than one drink per day (due to breast cancer risk), men no more than two. 8. Avoid Tobacco. Smoking doubles your risk for heart disease

Source: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine