Study shows plant-based diets effective against hypertension
A prospective study published online last Aug. 10 in the Journal of Hypertension showed that vegetarian diets protect against hypertension.
The researchers of this study have subsequently called on clinicians to prescribe vegetarian diets to prevent hypertension and prehypertension. A previously published meta-analysis found that consuming vegetarian diets has been associated with lower blood pressure.
Chuang SY, Chiu TH, Lee CY, and other researchers compared hypertension rates for 4,109 participants who followed a vegetarian- or nonvegetarian-diet regimen. Those who followed a vegetarian diet exhibited a 34-percent lower risk for hypertension compared to nonvegetarians.
This study was echoed on Aug. 18, when the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) published the study online in its “breaking news” section. The findings, it reported, remained significant after adjusting for obesity, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
Complications of hypertension include stroke, congestive heart failure, heart attack, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), aneurysm (a localized, blood-filled bulge in the wall of a blood vessel), kidney disease, disease of the retina, blood vessel rupture and weakened memory and mental ability.
In 2013, the Department of Health estimated that around 14 million or 25 percent of Filipinos are hypertensive. The figures are expected to increase.
Neil Nedley, MD, author of “Proof Positive,” said that large blood pressure reductions with lifestyle changes include abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee; a total vegetarian diet, and aerobic exercise.
In 2014, Inquirer Science/Health reported about a research published in the JAMA Internal Medicine showing specific reductions in blood pressure as a result of vegetarian diets. Physicians committee president Neal Barnard, MD, and researcher Yoko Yokoyama, PhD, MPH conducted a meta-analysis comparing blood pressure from more than 21,000 people around the world, and found study participants who followed a vegetarian diet had a systolic blood pressure about 7 mm Hg lower and diastolic blood pressure 5 mm Hg lower than study participants who consumed an omnivorous diet. The study was also published in the health website Fit Fathers. The JAMA meta-analysis report also pointed out, among others, that obesity, sodium and alcohol consumption increased blood pressure and risk for hypertension.
A total vegetarian diet consists of foods devoid of animal products: meat (pork and beef), poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), fish, eggs and dairy (milk, cheese and yoghurt). Choosing lean cuts of meat supposedly to avoid cholesterol will not suffice, according to PCRM; much of the cholesterol is, in fact, in the lean portions. PCRM, which promotes preventive medicine, says “every four-ounce serving of beef or chicken contains 100 milligrams of cholesterol. Also, most shellfish are very high in cholesterol. All animal products should be avoided for this reason. By contrast, no foods from plants contain cholesterol.”
Inquirer Science/Health has featured meat-free versions of the traditional meat-based favorites: vegetarian ham, shiitake mushroom and tofu embutido, tofu sisig, no-meat spaghetti, whole-wheat shiitake mushroom siopao and the like. These are now more accessible to the public with the increasing number of vegetarian stores sprouting all over the country. Online or Facebook sites have been helpful. These include Manila Vegans, What Vegan Children Eat, Quorn Philippines, The Real Happy Cow, www.happycow.net (list of vegetarian stores and restaurants), Pinoyvegs, Cebu Vegans, Vegetarian Society of the Philippines, Vegetarian in the Philippines, and Nurturers of the Earth.
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