Eating a variety of protein

Eating protein from a greater variety of sources was associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure in research published March 10 in Hypertension, a peer-reviewed journal of the Dallas-based American Heart Association.

The study involved nearly 12,177 adults living in China who were part of the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015. The eight protein sources were whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and legumes. More than 35% of the participants developed new-onset high hypertension during the follow-up of 6.1 years. Participants with the highest protein variety score (four or more sources) had a 66% lower risk of developing high blood pressure than participants with the lowest variety score (two or less sources).

The average age of participants was 41. The survey measured dietary intake in three consecutive 24-hour dietary recalls and a household food inventory. A trained interviewer collected 24-hour dietary information over three days in the same week during each round of the survey. One point was given for each source of protein. New on-set hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg, taking medicine that lowered blood pressure, or a physician diagnosing high blood pressure.

“Nutrition may be an easily accessible and effective measure to fight against hypertension,” said Xianhui Qin, MD, one of the study’s authors who works at the National Clinical Research Center for Kidney Disease at Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China. “Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is one of the three basic macronutrients.The National Natural Science Foundation of China, Outstanding Youths Development Scheme of Nanfang Hospital, Clinical Research Program of Nanfang Hospital and Southern Medical University funded the study.

The American Heart Association advises consumers to eat healthy sources of protein, mostly from plants. Consumers also may eat seafood, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and, if desired, lean cuts and unprocessed forms of meat or poultry.