London - This is for the one who finds it difficult to stick to a strict vegetarian diet, read on. Researchers have revealed that consuming a plant-based diet can lower blood pressure even if small amounts of meat and dairy are consumed too.
The team argued that any effort to increase plant-based foods in your diet and limit animal products is likely to benefit your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
For the study, published in the Journal of Hypertension, the research team conducted a systematic review of previous research from controlled clinical trials.
The team compare seven plant-based diets, several of which included animal products in small amounts, to a standardised control diet and the impact that these had on individuals' blood pressure.
"We reviewed 41 studies involving 8,416 participants, in which the effects of seven different plant-based diets (including DASH, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Vegan, Nordic, high fibre and high fruit and vegetables) on blood pressure were studied in controlled clinical trials," said study lead author Joshua Gibbs from the University of Warwick in the UK.
Plant-based diets support high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, limiting the consumption of most or all animal products (mainly meat and dairy).
Vegetarian and vegan diets with a complete absence of animal products are already known to lower blood pressure compared to omnivorous diets. Their feasibility and sustainability are, however, limited.
Until now, it has not been known whether a complete absence of animal products is necessary for plant-based dietary patterns to achieve a significant beneficial effect on blood pressure.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of these studies showed that most of these diets lowered blood pressure.
The findings showed that the DASH diet had the largest effect in reducing blood pressure compared to a control diet.
A blood pressure reduction of the scale caused by higher consumption of plant-based diets, even with limited animal products would result in a 14 per cent reduction in strokes, a nine per cent reduction in heart attacks and a seven per cent reduction in overall mortality.
"This is a significant finding as it highlights that complete eradication of animal products is not necessary to produce reductions and improvements in blood pressure. Essentially, any shift towards a plant-based diet is a good one," Gibbs added,
The study shows the efficacy of a plant-based diet on blood pressure.
"The adoption of plant-based dietary patterns would also play a role in global food sustainability and security," the study authors wrote. (agency)