Forget lettuce, adults who consume a high-protein diet are at a lower risk for developing high blood pressure (HBP), according to a paper in the American Journal of Hypertension.
One of three U.S. adults has hypertension and 78.6 million are clinically obese, which is considered a risk factor for the development of hypertension. Because of the strain that it puts on blood vessel walls, high blood pressure is one of the most common risk factors of stroke and an accelerator of multiple forms of heart disease, especially when paired with excess body weight.
What might help? More meat. Participants who consume the highest amount of protein - an average of 100 g protein/day - were found to have a 40 percent lower risk of having high blood pressure compared to the lowest intake level.
The researchers analyzed protein intakes of healthy participants from the Framingham Offspring Study and followed them for development of high blood pressure over an 11-year period. They found that adults who consumed more protein, whether from animal or plant sources, had statistically significantly lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure levels after four years of follow-up.
In general, these beneficial effects were evident for both overweight (BMI ≥25 kg/m2) and normal weight (BMI <25 kg/m2) individuals. They also found that consuming more dietary protein also was associated with lower long-term risks for HBP.
When the diet also was characterized by higher intakes of fiber, higher protein intakes led to 40–60 percent reductions in risk of HBP.
"These results provide no evidence to suggest that individuals concerned about the development of HBP should avoid dietary protein. Rather, protein intake may play a role in the long-term prevention of HBP," explains corresponding author Lynn Moore, associate professor of medicine at BUSM. "This growing body of research on the vascular benefits of protein, including this study, suggest we need to revisit optimal protein intake for optimal heart health."