Vegetarian diets linked to lower blood pressure

Various studies have targeted the relationship between a vegetarian diet and its effect on blood pressure. To weed through the reports, Japanese researchers did a meta-analysis of studies and have published their findings in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Seven clinical trials of 311 total participants and 32 observational studies of 21,604 total individuals were analyzed. Vegetarian diet in this case is defined as excluding meat but including dairy and fish. By measuring the millimeters of mercury, which is the unit blood pressure is measured, the researchers found that vegetarians had lower systolic blood pressure compared to omnivores in clinical trials by 4.8 mm Hg, and 6.9 mm Hg lower in observational studies. For diastolic blood pressure, vegetarians had 2.2 mg Hg lower blood pressure in clinical trials than omnivores, and 4.7 mm Hg lower in observational studies.

Researchers believe the low fat and sodium and high fiber and potassium that normally comprise a vegetarian diet may contribute to why vegetarians have lower blood pressure. However, certain lifestyle factors were not considered in the meta-analysis, such as exercise.

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