Protein is one of the building blocks of a healthy, well-rounded diet. But when it comes to lowering the risk of high blood pressure, not all protein sources are equal.
Eating a balanced diet that includes diverse sources of protein can help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. That’s what researchers in China found after analyzing the health information and eating habits of more than 12,000 adults who took part in an 18-year health study. Participants were given a “protein variety” score based on eight food types. Those included grains, processed and unprocessed red meat, poultry, eggs, fish and legumes.
The researchers then assessed new-onset cases of high blood pressure against the participants’ protein-consumption habits. Those who ate the most diverse protein had a 66% lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those with the least diverse protein intake.
Hypertension risk was also related to the number of proteins, not just the types. People who ate the least and most protein had the highest risk of developing high blood pressure. Each type of protein was found to have an optimal “window of consumption” where the high blood pressure risk was lowered.
The findings have messages that could resonate around the world: More than half of the U.S. population has high blood pressure. Left untreated, it damages the circulatory system and contributes to strokes and heart attacks.
But how much protein is enough? The American Heart Association recommends eating about 6 ounces a day — primarily from plants, seafood and lean, unprocessed meats.
So, the next time you open the refrigerator to cook a meal, open your mind to new types of protein.