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Plant-Based Diets Containing Small Amounts of Meat and Dairy Still Found To Improve Blood Pressure

Previous research has found that consuming a strictly plant-based diet that contains no animal products is associated with improved blood pressure. Now a new study suggests that consuming a diet that is mostly plant-based but also contains small amounts of meat and dairy may also help improve blood pressure.

For their study, researchers from the University of Warwick reviewed 41 clinical trials that included 8,416 participants. The trials looked at the effects of 7 plant-based diets on blood pressure. The 7 diets were DASH, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Vegan, Nordic, high fiber and high fruit and vegetables.

The DASH diet, which contains small amounts of low-fat dairy products, fish, and poultry, was found to have the most significant effect on blood pressure. Participants consuming the DASH diet saw reductions in systolic blood pressure of 5.53 mmHg and reductions in diastolic blood pressure of 3.79 mmHg compared to a control diet. The reductions compared to a typical diet were 8.74 mmHg in systolic blood pressure and 6.05 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure.  The Nordic and Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets also resulted in significant reductions in blood pressure.

The researchers estimated that increased consumption of plant-based diets that include small amounts of meat and dairy could result in a 14% decrease in strokes, a 9% decrease in heart attacks, and a 7% decrease in premature death.

The study was published online ahead of print on July 23, 2020 in the Journal of Hypertension.

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