Can Eating A Vegetarian Diet Lower Blood Pressure?

About one third of Americans have the “silent killer” known as high blood pressure.  Blood pressure problems provide little to none warnings and can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

Recent studies provided from have provided information on how eating a vegetarian diet  can maybe help high blood pressure, and maybe even lower it.

Vegetarian diets tend to have low sodium foods, and sodium is one of the biggest factors in the raising of blood pressure.  If one with high blood pressure ate vegetarian foods which include lower sodium, they may see a slight difference in their blood pressure numbers.  Vegetarians exclude meat in their diets, and meat is mainly the source of sodium and saturated fats.  Once the saturated fats and sodium is removed from the diet, blood pressure is seen to decrease.

Many vegetarian diets contain vegetables, eggs, dairy products and fruits.  These are all low in sodium and help lower blood pressure.

According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure readings under 120 mm Hg systolic and 80 mm Hg diastolic (120/80) are considered normal. High blood pressure starts at 140/90.

Researchers of MNT have concluded that “Further studies are needed to explore the relationships between specific foods and nutrients and blood pressure. Nevertheless, the results of the meta-analysis of the controlled trials suggest a robust relationship between consumption of vegetarian diets and lower blood pressure.”

The foods types that you should eat each day and that have nutritional value are listed below.  The facts are from the Mayo Clinic.

Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day
Grains include bread, cereal, rice and pasta. Examples of one serving of grains include 1 slice whole-wheat bread, 1 ounce (oz.) dry cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta.  Focus on whole grains because they have more fiber and nutrients than do refined grains. For instance, use brown rice instead of white rice, whole-wheat pasta instead of regular pasta and whole-grain bread instead of white bread. Look for products labeled “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.”  Grains are naturally low in fat, so avoid spreading on butter or adding cream and cheese sauces.

Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings a day
Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens and other vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins, and such minerals as potassium and magnesium. Examples of one serving include 1 cup raw leafy green vegetables or 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables.  Don’t think of vegetables only as side dishes — a hearty blend of vegetables served over brown rice or whole-wheat noodles can serve as the main dish for a meal.  Fresh or frozen vegetables are both good choices. When buying frozen and canned vegetables, choose those labeled as low sodium or without added salt.  To increase the number of servings you fit in daily, be creative. In a stir-fry, for instance, cut the amount of meat in half and double up on the vegetables.

Fruits: 4 to 5 servings a day
Many fruits need little preparation to become a healthy part of a meal or snack. Like vegetables, they’re packed with fiber, potassium and magnesium and are typically low in fat — exceptions include avocados and coconuts. Examples of one serving include 1 medium fruit or 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit or 4 ounces of juice.  Have a piece of fruit with meals and one as a snack, then round out your day with a dessert of fresh fruits topped with a splash of low-fat yogurt.  Leave on edible peels whenever possible. The peels of apples, pears and most fruits with pits add interesting texture to recipes and contain healthy nutrients and fiber.  Remember that citrus fruits and juice, such as grapefruit, can interact with certain medications, so check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if they’re OK for you.  If you choose canned fruit or juice, make sure no sugar is added.