Bottom Line: Eating a vegetarian diet appears to be associated with lower blood pressure (BP), and the diets can also be used to reduce blood pressure.
Author: Yoko Yokoyama, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, Osaka, Japan, and colleagues.
Background: Factors such as diet, body weight, physical activity and alcohol intake play a role in the risk of developing hypertension. Dietary modifications have been shown to be effective for preventing and managing hypertension.
How The Study Was Conducted: The authors analyzed seven clinical trials and 32 studies published from 1900 to 2013 in which participants ate a vegetarian diet. Net differences in BP associated with eating a vegetarian diet were measured.
Results: In the trials, eating a vegetarian diet was associated with a reduction in the average systolic (peak artery pressure) and diastolic (minimum artery pressure) BP compared with eating an omnivorous (plant and animal) diet. In the 32 studies, eating a vegetarian diet was associated with lower average systolic and diastolic BP, compared with omnivorous diets.
Conclusion: “Further studies are required to clarify which types of vegetarian diets are most strongly associated with lower BP. Research into the implementation of such diets, either as public health initiatives aiming at prevention of hypertension or in clinical settings, would also be of great potential value.”
(JAMA Intern Med. Published online February 24, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14547.