High-Protein Diet May Keep Blood Pressure Lower

Both animal and plant proteins were beneficial

(RxWiki News) Many medications reduce blood pressure, but new research suggests protein may also keep it in check.

High-protein diets, whether from animal or plant sources, were associated with a reduced risk for high blood pressure, the authors of a recent study found.

"Discuss healthy protein choices with your dietitian."

Lynn Moore, DSc, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues wrote the study.

They compared 1,351 people from the Framingham Offspring Study who ate a lot of protein to those who did not eat as much. They followed the participants for 11 years to see who developed high blood pressure.

Those who ate about 100 grams of protein a day had a 40 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than people who took in the least protein (about 58 grams per day).

The results were similar for normal-weight and overweight people.

People who coupled their higher protein intake with high fiber had an even lower risk for developing high blood pressure — their risk was 59 percent less than people who ate the least protein and fiber, the authors found.

People who took in the most protein and fiber had a 4 point lower systolic (upper number) blood pressure and a 2.3 point lower diastolic (lower number) pressure than those who ate the least protein and fiber.

"The saying 'You are what you eat' should really be 'You are HOW you eat.' You can't choose your genetics, but it's very possible to negatively influence your genetic predisposition to remain healthy," said Jeffrey M. Schussler, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

"This study suggests that people who eat more protein tend to have lower blood pressure," said Dr. Schussler, who was not involved in this study. "The general message should be one of moderation; less fat, and in general consumption of fewer calories to combat obesity. This, in turn, can lead to benefits such as blood pressure reduction."

According to Dr. Moore, "These results provide no evidence to suggest that individuals concerned about the development of [high blood pressure] should avoid dietary protein. Rather, protein intake may play a role in the long-term prevention of [high blood pressure].

"This growing body of research on the vascular benefits of protein, including this study, suggest we need to revisit optimal protein intake for optimal heart health," Dr. Moore said in a press release.

The study was published online Sept. 6 in the American Journal of Hypertension.

The research was funded by the Framingham Heart Study, the Boston University School of Medicine and the American Egg Board. The study authors did not disclose any conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 16, 2014