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A Vegetarian Diet "Kills" Hypertension?

You may hear something on the news about a new scientific review of 80 studies that shows high blood pressure can be reduced with diet changes, particularly a vegetarian diet, and not drugs. Nutritionists concluded vegetarians have lower rates of hypertension, a "silent" killer. As always, when your health is in the balance, consider the results of this study, and what's NOT reported, very carefully.

Why? The authors found vegetarians tend to be slimmer, on average, often one reason their blood pressure is often in the healthy range. Other mechanisms include vegetarians' higher intake of potassium as well as the tendency of plant-based foods to modulate blood viscosity. As blood pressure is lowered, vegetarians experience a reduced risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. And, researchers believe many people very wisely fear the side effects of blood pressure-lowering drugs, along with the expense.

What's wrong with that? As I've mentioned countless times on this blog and in my twice-weekly eHealthy News You Can Use, ALWAYS consider the messenger. In this case, one of the authors is Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the same group who horribly distorted the facts behind the death of Dr. Robert Atkins. In fact, the PCRM is nearly as bad as the major drug companies about promoting their own skewed agenda that steers people toward their pro-vegan diet.

This review of studies has the right idea that changing your diet will make a profound effect in your health, but it doesn't take into account that eating a strictly vegetarian diet isn't healthy for many people, for two very important reasons:

  • Contrary to what many vegetarians believe, vitamin B12 is not absorbed very well, if at all, from plant sources.
  • While some people can do quite well with only small amounts of protein, others need much more to function optimally, which is why knowing your nutritional type is so important.

EurekAlert January 11, 2005

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