It turns out that even if you don’t cut out meat and dairy completely, but go mostly plant-based, your blood pressure will improve. A study from Warwick Medical School, which conducted a review of 41 previous clinical studies on the effects of plant-based diets on blood pressure concluded that “any shift towards a plant-based diet is a good one”.
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and heart disease throughout the world. Poor diets also lead to more death and disability than smoking, excessive drinking, unsafe sex and drug use combined. The lower blood pressure resulting from eating more plants and less meat would result in a 14% reduction in strokes, a 9% reduction in heart attacks and a 7% reduction in overall mortality.
The review of 7 different diets included DASH, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Vegan, Nordic, High Fiber/High Fruit, High Fruit & Vegetables, showed that most of them lowered blood pressure. It was already known that vegetarian and vegan diets led to reduced blood pressure, but this study shows that even if animal products are not cut out completely, there is still a reduction in blood pressure.
A mostly plant-based diet means that you eat mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds while eating very limited amounts of animal products like meat and dairy. It’s also important to cut excess salt, sugar and fat, as evidenced by the fact that the DASH diet, which specifically limits intake of these three, had the largest effect on reducing blood pressure.
The benefits of going mostly plant-based extend beyond lowering your blood pressure. You will be increasing your intake of nutrients, fiber and antioxidants which will help prevent inflammation that leads to chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes as well as heart disease. You’ll also improve your gut health, which has a direct effect on your immune system and overall health.