Eat Many Different Kinds of Protein for Low Blood Pressure: Study
- Adding more variety to your diet with different protein sources may keep your blood pressure healthy.
- Foods like fish, beans, eggs, meat, and grains contain protein as well as other important nutrients.
- Including at least four protein groups may help stave off high blood pressure, data suggests.
Eating a greater variety of high-protein foods like beans, seafood, and lean meat may help lower the risk of
Researchers from Southern Medical University in China looked at data from 12,117 Chinese adults, comparing their eating habits to their blood pressure over a median of six years of follow-up.
Participants were scored based on how many categories of protein sources they ate in randomized, self-reported surveys. Protein sources were grouped into eight categories: whole grains, refined grains, processed meat, unprocessed meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and legumes.
Peope who ate four or more different protein sources were 66% less likely to develop high blood pressure than their peers who consumed protein from one or two sources, according to the data.
However, more protein overall wasn’t necessarily better for health, senior study author Dr. Xianhui Qin said in a press release.
The study suggested that people who consumed the most and the least total protein were both more likely to develop high blood pressure than people who consumed more moderate amounts.
“The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Qin said.
More variety in proteins means more nutrients like fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins
A major limitation of the current study is that the data was observational, which means it suggests a link, but can’t prove that protein sources directly cause or prevent high blood pressure.
However, the researchers theorized that a person may have healthier blood pressure from eating a wide variety of proteins because the different foods provide different micronutrients. For instance, different proteins provide different essential amino acids, building blocks of protein we need for health.
Research suggests eating a variety of foods also helps support the microbiome, beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive system and are important for overall health. Fiber, found in plant-based protein sources like legumes and whole grains, may be particularly helpful for a healthy microbiome, evidence suggests. Previous research indicates that eating more plant-based foods is beneficial for heart health, including blood pressure.
But animal protein sources like eggs and fish were also found to be beneficial for blood pressure, according to the most recent study. Fish is an excellent source of healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids, and eggs provide important vitamins and minerals like vitamin D.
While meat has sometimes been maligned for potential risks to heart health, the study found moderate consumption seemed to be beneficial for blood pressure, suggesting unprocessed lean red meat or poultry could be included in a healthy diet.
Researchers also found removing any one source of protein didn’t seem to make a difference for blood pressure outcomes, suggesting the overall pattern of the diet is more important than a single food group.