Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
One major feature of a vegetarian diet that may affect blood pressure is the amount of dietary fiber, with an increased amount being associated with decreased systemic pressures. Several studies have shown benefits with dietary fiber intake on blood pressure.
Vegetarians, in general, have lower blood pressure levels and a lower incidence of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Experts postulate that a typical vegetarian’s diet contains more potassium, complex carbohydrates, polyunsaturated fat, fiber, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin A, all of which may have a favorable influence on blood pressure.
More significant reductions were observed in older (greater than 40 years) and hypertensive individuals. Soy is good for high blood pressure because it is naturally high in potassium and low in sodium. Potassium and sodium are electrolytes, and a high-potassium, low-sodium diet promotes a healthy blood pressure.
Soy can be good for high blood pressure when you eat it as an alternative protein source to unhealthy meats. Soy-based meat substitutes, such as veggie burgers, veggie bacon and meatless cold cuts, can be higher in fiber and lower in sodium than animal-based meat products. They can lower your risk for heart disease because they are lower in saturated fat. However, soy does not contain the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fatty fish and shellfish; these may lower your blood pressure, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Even though soy is low in unhealthy saturated fat, some soy products are high in total fat and calories, and as a result will contribute to weight gain if you eat too much. Losing weight if you are overweight, or maintaining your current weight if you are already at a healthy weight, improves your chances of lowering your high blood pressure.