Canadian researchers claim following the plan - which combines plant sterols or stanols, nuts high in monounsaturated fats and plant fibres, soya protein alongside regular exercise - can lower blood pressure by an average of two per cent, compared to the DASH diet – which encourages the combination of fruit and vegetables with fish, poultry and nuts and reduces dairy and processed food intake.
The findings were revealed after a secondary analysis of data which was collected for a 2011 study on the effect of the Portfolio diet on cholesterol.
“This is a very important secondary finding to the original study, adding to the literature connecting diet with health,” Professor of nutritional sciences and medicine Dr David Jenkins at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto said. “It fills in yet another area we often worry about. We can now say the dietary portfolio is ideal for reducing overall risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Research found a diet low in saturated fat and salt, while high in fibre and packed with fresh fruit vegetables, oats, beans and pulses was beneficial to an individual’s health. A daily intake of 30g of nuts, 20g of soluble fibre, 50g of soya and 2g of sterols or stanols naturally found in plant foods was recommended.
The study, which was published in the Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease journal, focused on dietary and lifestyle changes in reducing heart disease risk factors.
“Dietary approaches have been found to be as effective as the starting dose of the average single blood pressure medication,” Dr Jenkins added.
“Overall, research has shown that plant-based diets emphasising foods higher in protein, oil and fibre reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
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