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Should You Go Vegetarian to Lower Your Blood Pressure?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure is "the second greatest public health threat" in the US, and about half of all with hypertension have uncontrolled high blood pressure.

This increases your risk for a number of more serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Interestingly, 16 million Americans who are on blood pressure medication still don't have their blood pressure under control-a fact that emphasizes the need for basic lifestyle changes in order to truly resolve this problem.

Vegetarian Diet Lowers Blood Pressure

A recent meta-analysis, suggests that a vegetarian diet may be part of the solution. Lead author Yoko Yokoyama told Reuters Health:

"For many people, the only treatment has been medication, but that means costs and possible side effects. However, in order to make healthful food choices, people need guidance from scientific studies. Our analysis found that vegetarian diets lower blood pressure very effectively, and the evidence for this is now quite conclusive."

The analysis included seven clinical trials and 32 observational studies. A vegetarian either excludes or severely limits meat, but typically includes dairy products and eggs. A pescetarian diet will also include fish. One of my friends is actually a healthy 66 year old pescetarian. Vegan diets typically exclude all animal products, fish, eggs, and dairy as well.

According to the study's findings, removing meat from the diet led to blood pressure reductions similar to losing five kilos of body weight or a little more than eleven pounds. Compared to blood pressure drugs, a vegetarian diet was found to be about 50 percent as effective for lowering blood pressure.       
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