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Eating a Wider Variety of Protein May Lower Risk of High Blood Pressure

Research suggests that vegetarians and vegans may be missing out on important sources of protein that can protect against high Blood Pressure. Chinese scientists analyzed the diets of 12,200 adults, looking at their consumption of eight different sources of protein. These were: poultry, fish, eggs, red meat, processed red meat, whole grains, refined grains, and legumes (a class of vegetables including lentils and beans).

Researchers compared those who ate less than two of these protein-packed foods with those who had four or more. Eating more protein sources was 66% less likely to develop high Blood Pressure. As only three of the eight types of protein were plant-based, it suggests a diet that includes meat and fish could be beneficial for Blood Pressure. Vegetarians tend to get their protein — vital for keeping muscles and bones healthy from beans or eggs. Vegans have even more limited options, typically relying on lentils or tofu as sources of the macronutrient.

The researchers of Nanfang Hospital at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou said eating proteins from different foods might provide different amino acids, which are more nutritious. Previous studies on protein suggested it has no effect on Blood Pressure, so the team admitted more research was needed. Heart disease alone kills 660,000 Americans a year in the US, making up a quarter of all deaths.  Protein is used by the body to grow and repair muscle and tissues and is found in the largest quantities in animal meat, fish, and eggs.

For the study published in the journal Hypertension, researchers analyzed diet and health data from 12,200 adults in China between 1997 and 2015.Participants had their daily diet surveyed over three consecutive days at least twice in the 18 years. Each received a score out of eight based on the variety of proteins they consumed, receiving one point each for any different groups.

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