A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that people who eat a vegetarian diet may have lower blood pressure than non-vegetarians. Vegetarian diets exclude meat, but may include dairy products, eggs, and fish in some cases.
The review combined results from 39 previous studies, including 32 observational studies and seven controlled trials. Together the studies included a total of 21,604 people. The researchers found that in the observational studies, people who had been eating a vegetarian diet had an average systolic blood pressure that was about 7 mm Hg lower than among meat-eaters and a diastolic blood pressure that was 5 mm Hg lower.
Participants in the clinical trials who were given vegetarian diets to follow had, on average, a systolic blood pressure that was 5 mm Hg lower and a diastolic blood pressure that was 2 mm Hg lower than participants in control groups who were not on vegetarian diets.
According to the researchers, a plant-based diet is typically low in fat and high in fiber, so it helps people lose weight, which, in turn, causes a healthy drop in blood pressure. In addition, plant-based foods are often low in sodium and rich in potassium, which lowers blood pressure.