Veg Diet = Lower Blood Pressure
Yet another study has reconfirmed what we already knew: that a plant-based diet promotes a lower blood pressure than a meat-centered one. The connection between a veg diet and blood pressure is a very strong one. The doctors conducting the study, just published in Internal Medicine, conclude that “controlled trials suggest a robust relationship between consumption of vegetarian diets and lower blood pressure.”
The importance of this finding can hardly be overstated when we stop to consider that about one third of all Americans have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is not harmless because it contributes to a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disorders and other health problems.
Medical researchers think that several factors acting independently account for their results. Vegetarian diets are typically higher in potassium which promotes lower blood pressure, and lower in saturated fats which can actually make the blood “thicker” and therefore harder for the heart to pump. Plant foods also contain substances called phytonutrients, that are neither vitamins or minerals, which can also have a blood pressure lowering effect. Just as important, vegetarian diets, and vegan diets in particular, are also associated with lower rates of obesity which is strongly associated with hypertension or high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, for many people, the only treatment offered has been medication, but that means financial costs and possible side effects. Plant foods are a better choice for most people than pills. Confirming the efficacy of the veg-diet approach, the authors of this study state “Our analysis found that vegetarian diets lower blood pressure very effectively, and the evidence for this is now quite conclusive.” Lead researcher Dr. Y. Yokoyama says “I would encourage physicians to prescribe plant-based diets as a matter of routine, and to rely on medications only when diet changes do not do the job” Nutrition author and award-winning journalist Jean Carper sums it up well when she says that “Food is the breakthrough drug of the twenty-first century.”