High blood pressure is one of the highest risk factors for heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. As a result, researchers are actively seeking lifestyle interventions to limit its damaging effects and lower blood pressure over time.
While fully plant-based and vegan diets have been known to benefit cardiovascular health, a new report from researchers at the University of Warwick suggests that any attempt to increase plant-based eating may go a long way. Plant-based diets technically differ from vegan diets based on one major factor: They place an emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods. Essentially, a plant-based diet is all about fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
The study, which reviewed 41 studies to compare the impact of plant-based diets on blood pressure, found that the DASH diet had the largest impact on blood pressure—which makes sense, considering the name stands for “Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension” and it focuses on foods that may help lower blood pressure.
Another notable mention is the ever-popular Mediterranean diet, which isn’t explicitly plant-based but does limit red meats and encourages more nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and grains.
While the study indicates the power of a plant-based diet, it’s important to note that “the translation of this knowledge into real benefits to people […] depends on a variety of factors.” In other words, there are many other factors that can affect blood pressure other than diet. Still, if you’re able to begin your day with a veggie-packed meal, then you’re putting yourself on a good path towards a healthy blood pressure.