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Eating a Variety of Plant and Animal Proteins May Reduce the Risk of Hypertension

Updated: Apr 7, 2022


By Melissa Kluczynski, MS


Protein is a macronutrient that supplies the body with calories, or “energy,” and helps the body build and repair cells and tissues. Protein is a major part of our skin, hair, nails, muscle, bone, and internal organs. We typically think of meat and poultry as sources of protein, but did you know that protein also comes from beans, peas, dairy foods, eggs, nuts and seeds, seafood, soy products, whole grains, and vegetables? Some research studies have found that total protein intake is associated with reduced blood pressure but the findings have been inconsistent, and fewer studies have looked at the effects of specific sources of protein on blood pressure. Chun Zhou and colleagues examined the association between the variety and quantity of protein intake from eight major food sources and the risk for new-onset hypertension in a new study published last month in the journal of Hypertension.

Data from 21,117 participants in the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) without a diagnosis of hypertension at baseline were included. The CHNS is a large ongoing population-based study in China designed to examine factors associated with health status, such as nutrition. Dietary intake was measured by three consecutive 24-hour dietary recalls and a household food inventory. Eight major sources of protein were identified including whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and legumes. The outcome of the study was new-onset hypertension, defined as systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90mmHg, physician-diagnosed hypertension, or receiving antihypertensive treatment during follow-up.