Switching to a vegetarian diet could help lower blood pressure, according to a study from the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan. In this meta-analysis of 39 studies that included close to 22,000 people, the researchers found that vegetarians had significantly lower blood pressure compared to meat eaters. On average, the vegetarians’s blood pressures were lower by 5 to 7 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 2 to 5 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. The researchers say that even these modest reductions in blood pressure are enough to lower heart attack risk by 9% and the risk for stroke by 14%. The type of vegetarian diet did not seem to matter and could include ones that emphasized vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and/or fruits or even ones that included eggs, milk products, and seafood (although technically fish inclusion would not be a vegetarian diet).
Yokoyama Y, Nishimura K, Barnard N, et al: Vegetarian diets and blood pressure. JAMA Internal Medicine 2014;February 24th.