Hypertension is an epidemic in the United States, despite many people not even realizing they are at risk with blood pressures higher than 120/80. Nearly half of the adult population has high blood pressure or its precursor, called pre-hypertension. That's more than 100 million American men and women! Therefore, it is not surprising that hypertension is one of the major causes of disability and death in the US, leading to hundreds of thousands of preventable heart attack, strokes, and kidney failures each year. More than 360,000 deaths recorded in the US in 2012 included hypertension as a primary or contributory cause. New guidelines call for treatment of systolic pressures higher than 129.
Surprisingly, hypertension is actually treatable without medications, as well as preventable. Most people do not realize that combining a daily brisk walk of 20 or more minutes with eating the right low-fat oil-free plant foods may help to reverse or prevent hypertension, if the sleep-related issues are dealt with if present. Evidence from a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that vegetarians were less likely to have high blood pressure than consumers of omnivorous diets containing dairy, eggs, or fish. The results of this study is consistent with the findings of a dietary interventional study that concluded that "a strict, very-low fat vegetarian diet free from animal products combined with lifestyle changes that include exercise and weight loss is an effective way to lower cholesterol and blood pressure."
For this study, researchers placed 500 men and women on a low-fat diet that excluded alcohol and animal foods for a duration of 12 days. The participants also exercised regularly, practiced stress management techniques, and stopped their blood pressure medications. At the end of the dietary and lifestyle intervention, the team of investigators noted a 6% reduction in the blood pressure of the participants in just 12 days. This study provides strong evidence that high blood pressure can be reduced with plant foods, plates, forks, and exercises—with no drugs or scalpel required.
Uncontrolled hypertension can jeopardize health, especially of the brain. The eyes are another quality of life aspect that hypertension may endanger. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be prevented and reversed just by making healthy lifestyle and dietary choices. Following a plant-based diet, together with obtaining regular exercise, can help to fight off hypertension.