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The Physicians Committee



Study Shows Vegetarian Diets Reduce Hypertension

saladThe scientific evidence favoring a vegetarian diet grows stronger every day.

A report published in the January 2005 issue of the journal Nutrition Reviews finds that a vegetarian diet is an effective way to both prevent and regulate high blood pressure.

Authors Susan E. Berkow, Ph.D., C.N.S., and PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D., reviewed 80 previously published studies, including both observational and randomized controlled trials. They found abundant evidence supporting the blood-pressure-lowering effect of a vegetarian diet.

In analyzing the potential mechanisms by which diet affects blood pressure, the authors concluded that vegetarians enjoy lower rates of hypertension not only because they typically weigh less than nonvegetarians, but because plant-based diets also modulate blood viscosity. The high potassium content of plant products also plays a role.

Vegetarian diets also have a relatively high ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat which might also play a contributing role. Finally, certain foods, more commonly found in the vegetarian diet, such as fruits, vegetables, and soy, seem to have specific blood-pressure-lowering properties.

Hypertension affects approximately 50 million Americans and approximately 1 billion individuals worldwide. This silent killer increases the risk of coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and renal disease.



 

PCRM Online, February 2005

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