Many things increase blood pressure (BP) … smoking, drinking alcohol, eating too much salt, not getting enough sleep or exercise, being overweight. It looks like consumption of protein and meat are gaining ground as contributors to high BP. This is the newest of several studies that found an association:1
Increased Protein Intake Is Associated With Uncontrolled Blood Pressure By 24-Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring In Patients With Type 2 Diabetes, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 11 March 2015
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, (BP) of outpatients with type 2 diabetes was evaluated by 24-hour ABPM (Spacelabs 90207) and usual diet by 3-day weighed diet records. Patients were divided into 2 groups according to their daytime ABPM: uncontrolled BP (systolic BP ≥ 135 mmHg or diastolic BP ≥ 85 mmHg) and controlled BP (systolic BP < 135 mmHg and diastolic BP < 85 mmHg).
Results: A total of 121 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 62.3 years, 54.5% of whom were women, were studied. The uncontrolled BP group had higher glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) values (8.4 ± 2.0 vs 7.6 ± 1.3%; p = 0.04) and consumed more protein (20.0 ± 3.8 vs 18.2 ± 3.6% of energy; p = 0.01) and meat, (2.6 [1.45, 2.95] vs 2.0 [1.49, 2.90] g/kg weight; p = 0.04) than the controlled BP group. In a multivariate analysis, protein intake (% of energy) increased the chance for uncontrolled BP (odds ratio [OR] = 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02, 1.30; p = 0.02), adjusted for body mass index (BMI), HbA1C, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, number of antihypertensive medications, and ethnicity. Meat consumption higher than 3.08 g/kg weight/day more than doubled the chance for uncontrolled BP (OR = 2.53; 95% CI, 1.01, 7.60; p = 0.03).
Conclusion: High protein intake and meat consumption were associated with high daytime ABPM values in patients with type 2 diabetes. Reducing meat intake might represent an additional dietary intervention in hypertensive patients with type 2 diabetes.
Someone who weighed 130 pounds and consumed just 177 grams of meat a day would more than double their chance (2.53 times) of having high blood pressure. I say “just” because one 4 ounce beef patty or chicken breast (112 grams) plus 3 ounces of tuna (85 grams) puts you over 177 grams and doesn’t include other meat sources for the day. It’s easy to eat this amount of meat in our culture. The Okinawans and Ikarians experienced healthy longevity eating less meat in a month than many Americans eat in a day.
1 Vegetarian Diets And Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis, JAMA Internal Medicine, April 2014
Conclusion: Consumption of vegetarian diets is associated with lower BP. Such diets could be a useful nonpharmacologic means for reducing BP.