Hypertension or elevated blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and renal impairment. In fact, the risk of CVD doubles for each 20 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure (the top number) beginning at115 mmHg. From a public health perspective, even a small reduction of just 2 mmHg could reduce fatal stroke by 6 percent and coronary heart disease by 4 percent. Dietary and lifestyle interventions to prevent hypertension include moderate exercise, maintaining a normal body weight, and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy foods and low in alcohol and salt.
More recent research suggests that dietary protein can impact blood pressure, too. Dutch researchers analyzed the results from 46 different studies that looked at protein intake and blood pressure. Their analysis of clinical studies showed that higher protein intake led to reduced blood pressure. Older people and people with elevated blood pressure were more sensitive to the effects of dietary protein. Furthermore, according to the authors of this analysis, the beneficial effects of protein may be due to plant protein. Plant protein such as that found in soyfoods has the advantage of not only potentially lowering blood pressure but lowering blood cholesterol levels. In addition, soyfoods are low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fat, providing additional protection against heart disease.
Altorf-van der Kuil W, Engberink MF, Brink EJ, et al. Dietary protein and blood pressure: a systematic review. PLoS One 2010;5:e12102.