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Scientists find getting protein from VARIETY of food types key to preventing high blood pressure

Warning to vegetarians as scientists find getting protein from a VARIETY of food types – including red meat – is key to preventing high blood pressure

  • People who ate a variety of proteins were less likely to get high blood pressure
  • Chinese experts examined the health and diet data of 12,000 adults for 18 years 
  • High blood pressure can damage arteries and lead to heart disease and strokes

Cutting out certain meat has long been billed as a way to lower blood pressure.

But a study suggests that going vegan or vegetarian might actually have the opposite effect.  

While bacon, steak and sausages have long been linked to hypertension, researchers found people who do not get enough animal-based protein also have a raised risk.

The study found those who ate at least four varying sources of protein were two-thirds less likely to have high blood pressure than those who ate just two.

Vegetarians typically get their protein – vital for keeping muscles and bones healthy – from beans or eggs. 

Vegans have an even more limited options, typically relying on lentils or tofu as sources of the macronutrient.

While the study was observational and could not prove a link, the scientists believe quality protein from a variety of source keeps the hear muscle strong.

Hypertension is significant risk factor in heart disease — one of Britain’s biggest killers.  

Chinese scientists found people who ate a variety of different proteins such as that from red meat, fish, eggs and beans had a lower risk of developing high blood pressure — a known factor in developing heart disease

About 160,000 Britons dies each year from strokes heart attacks and heart failures every year — around one every three minutes. 

In the US, heart disease alone kills 660,000 Americans a year, making up a quarter of all deaths. 

Protein is used by the body to grow and repair muscle and tissues and is found in the biggest quantities in animal meat, fish and eggs.

In the latest study, experts from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou anlaysed diet and health data from 12,200 adults in China between 1997 and 2015.

Participants had their daily diet surveyed over three consecutive days at least twice in the 18-year period.

Each person received a score out of eight based on the variety of proteins they consumed, receiving one point each for whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, egg and legumes.  

Researchers then compared this data with new diagnosis of hypertension in the participants with an average follow-up time of six years.

By the end of the study, 35 per cent of the participants had developed hypertension. 

But those who scored four or higher on proteins variety were 66 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure compared to those who only scored two. 

The researchers said a variety of both plant and animal proteins gave the lowest risk of developing high blood pressure. 

Study author Dr Xianhui Qin said the results, published in the journal Hypertension suggested focusing on a single source of protein could damage heart health.  

‘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,’ Dr Qin said.

A limitation of the study is that it is observational meaning that because researchers were looking at previously collected health information they could not definitively prove protein variety was linked to preventing hypertension.

NHS guidelines recommend adults eat 50g of protein per day, the equivalent of about three boiled eggs. 


High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases your risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many won’t realise it.

The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have your blood pressure checked.

Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers. The systolic pressure (higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.

The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. They’re both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

As a general guide:

  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
  • A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don’t take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.

If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.

Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • heart disease
  • heart attacks
  • strokes
  • heart failure
  • peripheral arterial disease
  • aortic aneurysms
  • kidney disease
  • vascular dementia 

Source: NHS