British researchers in an attempt to find out how various eating styles were associated with differences in blood pressure, compared the blood pressures of meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Their findings, which were published in Public Health Nutrition, showed how healthy eating habits could help lower high blood pressure. The researchers involved 11,000 adults in the comparative study - some with high blood pressure and others with normal blood pressure levels - and each of them was made to fill up a questionnaire which had questions about their eating habits, alcohol consumption, physical activity, smoking status, and medical history. The participants were then categorized into four groups according to their answers. The four groups were meat eaters, fish eaters (ate fish, but no meat), vegetarians (ate no fish or meat but did eat eggs and/or dairy products), and vegans (no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs). The volunteers were considered to have high blood pressure if they reported a physician's diagnosis or if they had ever been advised to make dietary changes due to high blood pressure.
Researchers found that the meat eaters had a higher blood pressure compared to vegans, and fish eaters and vegetarians were in the middle. These differences remained even after the researchers considered that the meat eaters tended to be older and heavier, two factors that increase the likelihood of high blood pressure. Body weight was found to play an important role in high pressure as the researchers found that even in those who did not report high blood pressure, the meat eaters showed a high blood pressure rate than those of vegans and the fish eaters and vegetarians who fell in the middle. And they found that these differences appeared to be related more to body weight rather than food choices.
In conclusion, the researchers listed the benefits of a vegetarian diet which contained lesser saturated fat when compared to meat. They also added that irrespective of whether one's diet contains meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or none of these, one must make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And if meat and dairy are consumed they should be of the lean and low-fat variety. Also, exercise and no smoking, combined with good eating habits could help lower cholesterol levels and body weight along with lowering blood pressure.