Adults who consume a high-protein diet may be at a lower risk for developing high blood pressure (HBP), according to a study (“Diets Higher in Protein Predict Lower High Blood Pressure Risk in Framingham Offspring Study Adults”) in the American Journal of Hypertension. Scientists from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) found participants consuming the highest amount of protein (an average of 100 g protein/day) had a 40% lower risk of having high blood pressure compared to the lowest intake level.

One of three U.S. adults has hypertension and 78.6 million are clinically obese, a risk factor for the development of hypertension. Because of the strain that it puts on blood vessel walls, HBP is one of the most common risk factors of stroke and an accelerator of multiple forms of heart disease, especially when paired with excess body weight.

The researchers analyzed protein intakes of healthy participants from the Framingham Offspring Study and followed them for development of high blood pressure over an 11-year period. They found that adults who consumed more protein, whether from animal or plant sources, had statistically significantly lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure levels after four years of follow-up. They also found that consuming more dietary protein also was associated with lower long-term risks for HBP.

“Beneficial effects of protein were apparent for men and women and for normal-weight and overweight individuals,” wrote the investigators. “Higher protein diets also characterized by higher fiber intakes led to a 59% reduction (95% CI, 0.37–0.66) in HBP risk.”

“These results provide no evidence to suggest that individuals concerned about the development of HBP should avoid dietary protein. Rather, protein intake may play a role in the long-term prevention of HBP,” explained corresponding author Lynn Moore, D. Sc., associate professor of medicine at BUSM. “This growing body of research on the vascular benefits of protein, including this study, suggest we need to revisit optimal protein intake for optimal heart health.” 

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