The research, conducted by scientists in Japan and the United States, was an analysis of 39 previous studies on hypertension in 18 countries , with a total of 21,000 participants. The researchers found that people who avoid eating meat have consistently lower levels and healthy blood pressure.

The vegetarian diet is associated , on average , a drop of 6.9 points in the systolic ( maximum ) and a drop of 4.7 points in the diastolic (minimum ) . Blood pressure is measured as systolic or maximum pressure when the heart muscle contracts and diastolic or minimum , when the heart is resting between beats.

Some participants in the study, a plant-based diet down better than the medication prescribed by the doctor and without the side effects of blood pressure medication .

Hypertension has been associated with diets high in sodium ( salt) and saturated with obesity , inactivity , alcohol consumption and smoking fat. Scientists theorize that vegetarian diets are naturally low in saturated fat and sodium and high in potassium, which can counteract the effects of excess dietary sodium .

One shortcoming of this study, according to the researchers, was that they could not differentiate between the different types of vegetarian diet and its effects on blood pressure from strict vegetarian , no animal foods , vegetarian diets that allow eggs and dairy products.

The researchers suggest that further analysis to clarify what are the best vegetarian diets to lower blood pressure are needed.

You can find the results in the Feb. 24 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine , entitled : Vegetarian Diets and Blood PressureA Meta -analysis

The authors of the study are :

Yoko Yokoyama, PhD, MPH1,2,3; Kunihiro Nishimura, MD, PhD, MPH4,5; Neal D. Barnard, MD3,6; Misa Takegami, RN, PhD, MPH1,7; Makoto Watanabe, MD, PhD8; Akira Sekikawa, MD, PhD9; Tomonori Okamura, MD, PhD10; Yoshihiro Miyamoto, MD, PhD1,8

1Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiologic Informatics, National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, Osaka, Japan 
2Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan 
3Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, DC 
4Division of Evidence-Based Medicine and Risk Analysis, Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, Osaka, Japan 
5Department of Nephrology, School of Medicine, Fujita Health University, Aichi, Japan 
6Department of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC 
7Department of Healthcare Epidemiology, Kyoto University School of Medicine and Public Health, Kyoto, Japan 
8Department of Preventive Cardiology, National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, Osaka, Japan 
9Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 
10Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan


Picture By Scott Bauer, USDA ARS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons