A new Japanese study shows what many lovers of kale, collard greens, spinach, bell peppers eggplant, zucchini and other vegetables already know. High blood pressure is zapped by a vegetarian diet.
The study, from the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan, examined some 22,000 people who were either vegetarians for a long time or else became vegetarians for the research. Both sets of people revealed that lower blood pressure is associated with vegetarian diets.
It has long been a debate if a vegetarian diet can lower blood pressure and perhaps even remedy or slow down other illnesses such as cancer. Some doctors say they don’t believe that blood pressure is lowered through diet, claiming high blood pressure is hereditary or else accompanies old age.
It is estimated that some 70 million people in the United States, one out of every three Americans, have high blood pressure which puts them at risk for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease, which remain among the leading causes of death in the country.
As a result, many Americans are on blood pressure medication of various sorts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that high blood pressure costs the United States some $47.5 billion annually in direct medical costs.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80. Hypertension is 120-139/80/89, while high blood pressure measures 140/90.
Often times there are no overt symptoms of high blood pressure, which is why it is called the “silent killer.” Doctors often encourage their patients to get a physical examination at least once a year so that blood pressure can be monitored. Physicians further advise that to reduce the risk of blood pressure, people should maintain healthy weight, be physically active, not smoke, limit their alcohol intake, and eat a healthy diet. As of a result of the new research, that “healthy diet”may consist more and more of a vegetarian discipline.
Even before this new study, many health experts believe that if one adheres to a vegetarian diet then they may be able to ditch the medicines they take to reduce it. That’s a big ‘if’ since so many Americans enjoy eating meat and have other poor habits as little or no exercise, smoking and imbibing in alcohol and caffeine.
A good vegetarian diet consists of a diet high in vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts. For those that want to go further, they can become a vegan. A vegan is totally plant-based diet that excludes not only meat but also eggs and dairy products and anything that has animal derived ingredients. Vegans typically eat all grains, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Former president Bill Clinton is a vegan and proselytizes about it whenever he can. He says he became a vegan several years ago after battling heart disease. He further claims he has lost at least 30 pounds and that he has much more energy and feels better most of the time.
Experts concede that switching one’s diet and lifestyle to becoming a vegetarian or vegan is not easy. Maybe if one does not have high blood pressure the incentive may be lower. If someone does have high blood pressure, however, the effort to become a vegetarian could add years to his or her life. That alone is plenty of incentive as it appears very likely now that high blood pressure is zapped by vegetables.
By Jim McCullaugh