High-blood pressure is the world’s leading cause of death, killing 8 million of us a year. It is linked to many other conditions including strokes, diabetes, kidney disease, vision problems, dementia, sexual dysfunction and aneurisms. It doesn’t need to be this way.
A vegetarian diet can reduce blood pressure by 5 points in just a few weeks
In a randomised crossover trial, 58 people (aged 30-64) had mild untreated hypertension. They were given either a typical omnivorous diet or ovolactovegetarian diet for six weeks. During the meat-free periods, during which they were still consuming eggs and milk-products, their systolic blood pressure fell – but rose again when they started eating meat again. The main nutrient changes with the vegetarian diet included an increase in the ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fats and intake of fibre, calcium, and magnesium and a decrease in the intake of protein and vitamin B12. The research scientists conclude that patients with untreated mild hypertension might be able to manage their blood pressure by switching to a vegetarian diet.
Healthy plant-based diet may reduce risk of death from cardiovascular disease by almost 20%
A good-sized 20-year study of middle-aged adults, followed from 1987 through 2016, assessed the connection between diet and mortality rates from cardiovascular and other causes. The study essentially grouped diets into four categories: healthy plant-based diet, less-healthy plant-based diet, each grouped into low and high meat consuming groups. Results showed that participants in the highest versus lowest quintile for adherence to overall plant-based diet had lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular disease mortality, and all-cause mortality. Higher adherence to a healthy plant-based diet index was associated with a 19% and 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality, respectively. These benefits were not found in patients who ate the less healthy plant-based diet.
Patients switching to a vegan diet have been able to stop or dramatically reduce medication
Twenty-nine patients who had suffered from essential hypertension for an average of 8 years, all receiving long-term medication for hypertension, were given vegan food for 1 year. In almost all cases medication was withdrawn or drastically reduced. There was a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A number of reported symptoms disappeared. There was a significant improvement in a number of clinical variables as well as a significant change in various biochemical indices such as urea, haptoglobin, cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in blood. Subjectively all patients reported improvement. Selected patients, with a fear of side-effects of medication, who are interested in alternative health care might replace conventional medication with this dietary regimen.
Dozens of peer reviewed studies have shown that diets rich healthy plant-based foods help prevent heart disease.
Vegetarian dietary patterns reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 40%
A 2018 review article published in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease concluded that nutrition plays a key role in the lifestyle changes that reduce risk of heart attack by over 80%. Vegetarian dietary patterns reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by 40%. Evidence also suggests that vegetarian dietary patterns can help with prevention and treatment of heart failure and diseases of the blood vessels in the brain. Plant-based diets are associated with lower blood pressure and lower blood lipids.
Daily consumption of meat is associated with increased risk of hypertension
Several large scale studies, including tens of thousands of people, examined the impact of meat and sea-food-eating on risk of future development of hypertension. Long-term intake of meat and poultry were associated with increased risk of hypertension. A significant but much lower risk of hypertension was also found with increasing seafood consumption.
Lifestyle changes have been shown to help patients with heart disease
A controlled trial assessed the effect of lifestyle changes on coronary artery disease. After 1 year, over 80% of patients who undertook rigorous lifestyle changes (low-fat vegetarian diet, stopping smoking, stress management training, and moderate exercise) showed an average change towards regression in their coronary artery disease.