In a nutshell
The study aimed to assess whether eating a vegetarian diet led to a reduction in blood pressure (BP) when compared to eating an omnivorous diet. The study found that eating a vegetarian diet led to a significant decrease in BP when compared to eating an omnivorous diet.
Hypertension is another word for high BP. Roughly 26% of the world's population have high blood pressure. High BP is defined as a systolic BP of 140mmHg or higher, and diastolic BP of 90mmHg or higher. Systolic BP (SBP) is a measure of how much pressure is on the arteries in the heart when the heart beats. Diastolic BP (DBP) is a measure of the force of the arteries in the heart when the heart relaxes. High BP is a major risk factor for the development of heart disease and stroke.
An omnivorous diet is a diet where animal and plant products are consumed. A vegetarian diet is where animal meat is not consumed. A vegetarian diet can include animal products such as eggs and milk. A vegan diet is a diet where no animal meat or products are eaten. This includes eggs and milk. Many studies have shown the benefits of vegetarian diets. However, there have also been conflicting results. It is important to evaluate the reals benefits of different diet types on BP.
Methods & findings
This study analyzed the results of 15 studies on the effects of different diets on BP. There were 856 subjects overall enrolled in these studies. These studies compared an omnivorous diet to either a vegetarian diet (5 studies) or a vegan diet (10 studies).
Overall, a vegetarian/vegan diet was found to be associated with a 2.66 mmHg reduction in SBP. It was also associated with a 1.69 mmHg decrease in DBP when compared to an omnivorous diet. The vegan diet had a greater decrease in SBP (by 3.12 mmHg) compared to the vegetarian diet (decrease in SBP of 1.75 mmHg). The vegan subgroup showed a 1.92 mmHg decrease in DBP, while the vegetarian subgroup did not show a decrease in DBP.
There were greater reductions in SBP and DBP in patients with diabetes who consumed a vegetarian/vegan diet compared to patients without diabetes.
The bottom line
The authors concluded that a vegetarian diet was associated with a significantly lower BP compared with omnivorous diets.
The fine print
Other risk factors for high BP may also have been eliminated during the trials such as smoking, caffeine intake, and limiting alcohol. This study did not take this into account and only looked at diet variation. The studies included were conducted in Western countries and Australia. This means the research conducted may not be translatable to other populations.
If you have concerns regarding diet and BP management, please discuss this with your doctor.
Published By :
May 30, 2020