Consuming a small amount of meat and dairy will not undermine the blood pressure-lowering effects of a mostly plant-based diet, according to new research.
Investigators reviewed 41 controlled clinical trials involving more than 8,000 participants and seven plant-based diets. Their analysis showed that most of the diets lowered blood pressure. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet was the most successful. Blood pressure among people who consumed this diet was reduced by 5.53/3.79 mm Hg compared with a control diet, and by 8.74/6.05 mm Hg when compared with a usual diet, reported lead author Joshua Gibbs, from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.
The DASH diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy products. It also limits sweets, saturated fat and sodium. Aside from an all-vegetable vegan diet, all of the diets studied allowed minimal meat and/or dairy products.
The blood pressure reduction gained from consuming plant-based diets — even with limited animal products — would result in a 14% reduction in stroke risk, a 9% reduction in heart attack risk and a 7% reduction in overall mortality, the researchers estimated.
“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,” Gibbs wrote. “Essentially, any shift towards a plant-based diet is a good one.”
The study was published Friday in the Journal of Hypertension.