Numerous studies have touted the health benefits of a vegetarian diet including the association with reduced blood pressure. A review study analyzing seven clinical trials and 32 studies published from 1900 to 2013 in which participants ate a vegetarian diet conclusively determined the correlation between a vegetarian diet and low blood pressure.
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.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition correlates a vegetarian diet with significant reduction in the risk of heart disease. The research group examined over 45,000 volunteers enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford study. Thirty four percent of participants were vegetarian and the findings revealed an overall low blood pressure rate and cholesterol levels for vegetarians, reducing the risk of heart disease.
‘Most of the difference in risk is probably caused by effects on cholesterol and blood pressure, and shows the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease,’ explains Dr Francesca Crowe, lead author of the study at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.
Professor Tim Key, co-author of the study and deputy director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, said: ‘The results clearly show that the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in comparable non-vegetarians.’
Francesca L Crowe, Paul N Appleby, Ruth C Travis, and Timothy J Key. Risk of hospitalization or death from ischemic heart disease among British vegetarians and nonvegetarians: results from the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr, January 30, 2013 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.112.044073
Yoko Yokoyama, Kunihiro Nishimura, Neal D. Barnard, Misa Takegami, Makoto Watanabe, Akira Sekikawa, Tomonori Okamura, Yoshihiro Miyamoto. Vegetarian Diets and Blood Pressure. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14547