A Greater Variety of Protein Could Help Reduce Risk of Hypertension

According to research, eating a balanced diet that includes protein from a larger variety of sources could help reduce the risk of developing hypertension.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.121.18222

Almost 50 % of the population has high blood pressure, which is one of the main contributing factors to cardiovascular disease. When not treated, hypertension damages the circulatory system and is a major contributor to stroke, heart attack as well as other health problems.

Nutrition could be an easy-to-access and effective strategy to combat high blood pressure. Together with carbohydrates and fat, protein is 1 of the 3 basic macronutrients.

There’s a strong connection between poor diet quality and a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and dying from cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association’s 2021 dietary guidelines for improving cardiovascular health advises individuals to consume healthy protein sources, mainly from plants, and could include low-fat or fat-free dairy products and seafood, and, if wanted, unprocessed types and lean cuts of poultry or meat. The AHA recommends consuming 1 to 2 helpings, or 5.5 ounces, of protein every day.

The researchers analyzed health information for almost 12,200 individuals who were part of between 2 and 7 rounds of a nutrition survey undertaken every 2 to 4 years. The initial survey was made use of as a baseline, with data from the last round used as a comparison follow-up.

The individuals were 41 years old on average, and 47% were male. Dietary consumption was measured from a household food inventory and in 3 consecutive 24-hour dietary recalls. 24-hour dietary information was obtained over 3 days in the same week throughout each survey round.

Individuals received a protein variety score according to the number of different protein sources consumed out of 8 reported: legumes, refined grains, whole grains, fish, unprocessed red meat, processed red meat, egg, and poultry.

A point was given for each protein source, with a maximum variety score of 8. The relationship between new onset high blood pressure relative to the protein variety score was then evaluated.

New-onset high blood pressure was classified as systolic blood pressure greater than or equivalent to 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equivalent to 90 mm Hg, taking medication for reducing blood pressure, or a hypertension diagnosis since the last survey visit. Follow-up time was 6 years on average.

The analysis found:

  • Over 35% of the almost 12,200 individuals developed new-onset high blood pressure during follow-up.
  • In comparison to individuals with the lowest protein consumption variety score of less than 2, individuals with the highest variety score of 4 or more had a 66% reduced risk of developing hypertension.
  • There was a consumption amount window for each of the 8 types of protein where high blood pressure risk was lower. This was defined by the researchers as the proper consumption level.
  • When total protein consumption quantity was considered, the amount eaten was split into 5 categories, from least to the most consumed. Individuals who consumed the least total protein amount and individuals who consumed the most protein had the highest new onset high blood pressure risk.

The conclusion is that eating a balanced diet with different protein sources, instead of focusing on a single dietary protein source, could help in preventing the development of hypertension.

A study limitation is its observational design. Because previous health information was made use of, the researchers couldn’t definitively prove protein consumption of any quantity or type prevented or resulted in new-onset high blood pressure.

A Greater Variety Of Protein Could Help Reduce Risk Of Hypertension

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