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Eating a Wider Variety of Protein May Lower Risk of High Blood Pressure, New Research Says

Eating a Wider Variety of Protein May Lower Risk of High Blood Pressure, New Research Says

A well-balanced diet could be the ticket to better blood pressure.

  • New research found eating protein from a variety of sources was associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Participants who ate four or more protein sources a week had a 66% lower risk of developing hypertension compared to those who had two or fewer protein sources a week.
  • Experts recommend eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep to keep blood pressure in check.

What you eat can have a major impact on your overall health. Especially when it comes to heart health, you’ll often hear medical professionals touting diets (like the Mediterranean diet) that increase vegetables, heart-healthy fats, and whole grains, while slashing animal products and sodium. But a new study looked at a lesser talked about nutrient’s ability to impact our heart health—protein.

The research published in the journal Hypertension suggests eating a diet with a greater variety of protein sources may help adults lower their risk of developing high blood pressure. Researchers examined data from nearly 12,200 participants from the China Health and Nutrition Survey who were part of at least two of the seven rounds of the questionnaire. Participants self-reported their diets for three consecutive days and they reported what types of food they kept in their homes. Researchers used the initial responses as a baseline and the final round of questionnaires as a follow-up.

Participants were scored based on how many protein sources were consumed of eight categories. These protein sources included whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and legumes. For each source eaten, participants were given one point.

After an average of six years, researchers followed up with participants to gauge if they had developed new-onset hypertension since the original survey. New-onset hypertension was defined as a systolic pressure above or equal to 140 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg, or if a medical professional diagnosed or began treating a participant with high blood pressure, according to the study.

Researchers found that more than 35% of the participants developed early-onset hypertension during the follow-ups. Those who ate four or more protein sources a week had a 66% lower risk of developing high blood pressure compared to those who had two or fewer protein sources a week.

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