Diets to control hypertension: Research shows plant-based foods capable of lowering blood pressure
Almost one out of every three Indian adults has hypertension, as per the findings of a 2019 study published in the Indian Heart Journal.
Almost one out of every three Indian adults has hypertension, as per the findings of a 2019 study published in the Indian Heart Journal. This high prevalence not only makes high blood pressure one of the most common chronic conditions Indians suffer from but also ensures that this highly preventable disease also causes a significant burden on the Indian healthcare system.
An editorial in the Indian Journal of Medical Research recommends that this prevalence of hypertension can only be effectively reduced by better awareness about both screening and preventive measures. In case you didn’t know, a good diet is one of the primary preventive measures you can take against hypertension. You might already have heard of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH diet, which has been supported by many studies over the years.
Plant-based diets for healthy blood pressure
A recent study to be published in the Journal of Hypertension reveals that there are six other diets, apart from the DASH diet, that are capable of reducing your blood pressure levels. All seven diets have one thing in common — they’re predominantly plant-based, but some do include limited amounts of animal products like meat and dairy. The research, conducted by a team at the University of Warwick Medical School, did a systematic review and meta-analysis of 41 studies including 8,416 participants.
The study indicated that though the DASH diet was the most effective of these plant-based diets, all of them reduced blood pressure levels. Even with the inclusion of animal products, the study found that the reduced blood pressure levels by following any one of them can, in turn, lessen the risks of strokes by 14%, heart attacks by 9% and overall mortality by 7%.
This is not the first study to indicate that plant-based diets can diminish hypertension risks. A study in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology in 2017, for example, showed that vegan and vegetarian diets are significantly capable of reducing blood pressure levels. Where the current study stands out is in showing that the complete eradication of animal products is not compulsory for these reductions and improvements in blood pressure. This is of vital importance because even though vegan and vegetarian diets are effective, their feasibility and sustainability are more difficult to attain for many in the long run.
Instead, the following seven diets, as the study indicates, can benefit you in the long run where reducing hypertension and its associated risks are concerned.
1. DASH diet: Limit the consumption of sugar, sodium and saturated fats, while increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, etc. Limited lean chicken and fish consumption is allowed in this diet.
2. Mediterranean diet: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, legumes, nuts, dairy, fish and eggs are included in this diet, and so is limited meat intake once in a while.
3. Nordic diet: This diet originates from countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, and allows the consumption of plant foods, vegetable fat, fish and eggs while lowering the intake of meat, dairy, sweets and alcohol.
4. Vegan diet: This low-fat diet consists of plant foods only, and no animal products (including milk and butter) are allowed in it.
5. High-fruit and vegetable diet: This diet recommends an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, and sometimes includes dark chocolate to increase the polyphenolic intake.
6. High-fibre diet: In addition to fruits and vegetables, this diet focuses on the increased consumption of whole grains and legumes for dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
7. Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds apart, this diet also includes eggs and dairy products. No other animal meats are allowed.
For more information, read our article on Foods to reduce and control high blood pressure.
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