(RxWiki News) While lean meats like chicken can serve as a great source of protein in the diet, there may be some benefits to going meatless — particularly for blood pressure.
A recent study found that a vegetarian diet was linked to lower blood pressure in an analysis of several studies looking at the relationship between blood pressure and vegetarian diets.
The study authors noted that a vegetarian diet might offer a way to lower blood pressure without the use of medication.
"Talk to your doctor about ways to control your blood pressure."
This study was led by Yoko Yokoyama, PhD, MPH, in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiologic Informatics at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan. The research team conducted an analysis of the relationship between blood pressure and vegetarian diets.
A vegetarian diet is defined as one that excludes or rarely includes meat. This kind of diet typically incorporates plenty of plant-based foods including vegetables, grains, and fruit as well as some dairy products, eggs, and fish.
The researchers reviewed two databases (Medline and Web of Science) for articles published as early as 1900 to those published as recently as November 2013.
Studies were included in the final analysis that included participants who were over 20 years old, that focused on vegetarian diets, recorded data on systolic (blood pressure when heart beats) and diastolic (blood pressure in between heart beats) blood pressure, and were either a clinical trial (contains a treatment group and a non-treatment group) or an observational study.
Data was analyzed from seven clinical trials and 32 observational studies.
Several factors were taken into account, including age, sex, blood pressure, use of blood pressure medication, body mass index (a measure of height and weight), and alcohol consumption.
The researchers found that in the clinical trials, participants consuming a vegetarian diet on average had a systolic blood pressure that was 4.8mm Hg lower and a diastolic blood pressure that was 2.2mm Hg lower than participants consuming meat.
In the observational studies, the researchers found that participants consuming a vegetarian diet on average had a systolic blood pressure that was 6.9mm Hg lower and a diastolic blood pressure that was 4.7mm Hg lower than participants consuming meat.
The study authors noted that from their findings, the link between vegetarian diets and blood pressure appears to be stronger for men and for those who have a higher blood pressure to begin with and with a higher body mass index.
One possible explanation given for the link seen was that vegetarians tend to have lower body mass indexes due to the high fiber and low fat content of their diet.
They concluded that more research is needed to determine the types of vegetarian diets that are most strongly linked to lower blood pressure.
This study was published on February 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
This study was funded by a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellows.
The study authors reported no competing interests.