A plant-based diet can still achieve the goals of keeping blood pressure within a healthy range and reducing overall cardiovascular risks, even if some meat and dairy are included, researchers from the University of Warwick have shown.
The researchers systematically reviewed previous studies about the impact of seven major plant-based diets on cardiovascular health, including the Mediterranean diet.See Also: Health News
The researchers analyzed 41 studies involving 8,416 participants and found that most diets high in fiber, fruits and vegetables lowered blood pressure, with the DASH diet having the most notable effects.
“A blood pressure reduction of the scale caused by a higher consumption of plant-based diets, even with limited animal products, would result in a 14 percent reduction in strokes, a nine percent reduction in heart attacks and a seven percent reduction in overall mortality,” said Joshua Gibbs, the lead author of the study and a student at the University of Warwick.
“This is a significant finding as it highlights that complete eradication of animal products is not necessary to produce reductions and improvements in blood pressure,” he added. “Essentially, any shift towards a plant-based diet is a good one.”
The researchers emphasized that diets that exclude any meat or dairy were already known to lower blood pressure.
“Their feasibility and sustainability are, however, limited,” the study reads. “Until now, it has not been known whether a complete absence of animal products is necessary in plant-based dietary patterns to achieve a significant beneficial effect on blood pressure.”
According to the researchers, their findings could have lasting effects. Previous studies have shown that an increased consumption of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruits could avert up to 10.8 million deaths globally every year.