Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major risk factor for heart disease and it affects 1 in every 3 American adults.  In fact, 69% of people who have a first heart attack, 77% of people who have a first stroke, and 74% of people with chronic heart failure, have high blood pressure. 

After a major review of scientific evidence, a collaboration of scientists in the US and Japan determined that a vegetarian diet might be a valuable means for reducing blood pressure without the use of prescription drugs.  The review, published online Feb 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined over 21,800 participants’ data from seven clinical trials and 32 observational studies together.  The scientists noticed a general trend: that participants consuming vegetarian diets had reduced blood pressure compared to participants consuming omnivorous (meat and plant) diets.  Based on the magnitude of this information, the researchers concluded that a plant-based diet could be a useful means for reducing blood pressure.  The review did not distinguish between types of vegetarian diets, but this would be something interesting to find out as well.

Reference: Yokoyama Y, et al. Vegetarian diets and blood pressure: A meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 online. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14547

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