High blood pressure (HBP) is on the rise. According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of adults have this risky condition. If you suffer with chronic HBP, it means that the long-term force of blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause serious health problems, particularly heart disease.
Blood pressure readings of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered in the normal range. If your blood pressure reading is above this, it’s reason for concern. But there’s also some good news. A new study shows you may be able to lower your HBP just by eating a diet with different kinds of protein.
The study analyzed the health information of nearly 12,200 adults living in China who were part of the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015. Surveys of the participants were taken every two to four years. According to the collected data, people who got their protein from four or more different sources, as opposed to two or fewer, had a 66 percent lower chance of experiencing high blood pressure. Since personal nutrition is something we can learn to control, this is a particularly useful finding.
“Nutrition may be an easily accessible and effective measure to fight against hypertension. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three basic macronutrients,” one of the study’s authors, Xianhul Qin, of the National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Disease at Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, said in a statement.
Consuming a lot of the same kind of protein was problematic.
Participants in the study were given a protein “variety score” based on the number of different proteins they said they ate regularly. The survey included eight different sources of protein: whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and legumes. One point was given for each different source of protein. The maximum variety score was eight.
The research team found that consuming a lot of the same kind of protein was problematic. They found that participants who ate the least amount of protein, as well as those who ate a lot of the same protein, were at the highest risk for new onset hypertension.
Ultimately, “The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Qin said.
The survey included eight different sources of protein: whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and legumes.
Besides including a wide range of proteins in your diet, there are other proven ways to keep blood pressure in check, according to the American Heart Association. They include:
- Stay at a healthy weight. Strive for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fruit, veggies and low-fat dairy, and less saturated and total fat.
- Reduce your salt intake. Ideally, stay under 1,500 mg of sodium a day, but aim for at least a 1,000 mg per day reduction.
- Be active. Aim for at least 90 to 150 minutes of aerobic and/or dynamic resistance exercise per week and/or three sessions of isometric resistance exercises per week.
- Limit alcohol. Drink no more than 1-2 drinks a day. (One for women, two for men).
The study is published in Hypertension.