Higher Protein Intake Linked To Lower Blood Pressure

Lynn L. Moore, DSc, MPH Co-Director, Nutrition and Metabolism Assoc Prof of Medicine Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology Department of Medicine Boston University School of Medicine Boston, MA 02118MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lynn L. Moore, DSc, MPH
Co-Director, Nutrition and Metabolism
Assoc Prof of Medicine
Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology Department of Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine
Boston, MA 02118

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Response: Our data were derived from 1,361 adults (aged 30-54 years) enrolled in the Framingham Offspring Study and showed that men and women who consumed higher amounts of protein had lower blood pressures (both systolic and diastolic blood pressures) after four years of follow-up. We then followed them for an average of about 11 years and found that those who consumed the most protein (approximately 103 g/day) had about a 40% lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those consuming about half that amount. These beneficial effects were even more pronounced when higher protein intakes were combined with high fiber intakes.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Response: Some of the findings were a bit surprising to me. Some previous publications have suggested that only plant protein would benefit blood pressure but our data suggest that both animal and plant proteins have blood pressure lowering effects.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: For many years, some clinicians and dietitians have steered patients away from eating meat, dairy products, and eggs in the belief that these foods would increase the risk of heart disease. More recent evidence, however, has called this advice into question. Consuming too little total protein may have unintended harmful consequences as we age. For one thing, a low-protein diet may promote over-eating of less healthy foods since dietary protein stimulates the production of certain hormones that tell us when we have had enough to eat. Protein and other nutrients in protein-rich foods convey many health benefits. This report adds blood pressure of the list of benefits associated with consuming enough dietary protein.

If I were to focus on one dietary message, it would be that people eat far too much food every day that has little or no nutritional value. The grocery aisles are filled with snack foods with very few nutrients and lots of calories. Replacing these nutrient-poor snacks with a handful of nuts or a container of yogurt may have a wide range of health benefits.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: There are a number of remaining questions about the effects of dietary protein on blood pressure. First of all, all protein-containing foods are different in their amino acid composition and there are many mechanisms by which high blood pressure may develop. We need further research to understand how different protein-rich foods impact blood pressure. For example, eggs may benefit blood pressure through their arginine content while certain milk peptides may reduce blood pressure through a different pathway. It may be that consuming a variety of plant and animal proteins may lead to the greatest blood pressure benefits by impacting multiple pathways. We need to look at that.

Citation:

Diets Higher in Protein Predict Lower High Blood Pressure Risk in Framingham Offspring Study Adults
Buendia JR1, Bradlee ML1, Singer MR1, Moore LL2.
Am J Hypertens. 2014 Sep 6. pii: hpu157. [Epub ahead of print]

 

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