Interestingly, eating five portions of fruit and four portions of vegetables daily was enough to reach the peak of happiness.Aproximando Ciênciae/Flickr

Eating a vegetarian diet can help manage blood pressure, a Japanese study says.

In the study, vegetarian participants had a lower blood pressure than those who ate both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

Blood pressure (BP) is a term used to measure the force of the blood flow against the walls of the blood vessels, each time the heart beats. Blood pressure readings that shows systolic pressure and diastolic pressure at or below 120 over 80 (120/80 mmHG) is considered to be normal, above 140/90 mmHG indicates high BP, while readings below 90/60 mmHG is considered to be low BP.   

For analysing the importance of a vegetarian diet on good health, Yoko Yokoyama and colleagues from the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan examined seven clinical trials and 32 studies published in the past 112 years (1900-2013). The clinical trials included 311 people aged around 45 years, while the second one looked at 21,604 participants, aged around 47.

Results showed that a vegetarian diet was highly effective in keeping the BP under control. In both the clinical trials and studies, regular consumption of vegetarian diet helped lower mean systolic BP and diastolic BP, compared to the ones following an omnivorous diet.

"Consumption of vegetarian diets is associated with lower BP. Such diets could be a useful nonpharmacologic means for reducing BP," the authors wrote while concluding their study.

The study has been published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

According to the World Heart Federation, nearly 970 million people around the world are affected with hypertension or high blood pressure and it is one of the leading causes of premature deaths across the whole globe. Experts at the Mayo Clinic in the US said that high blood pressure can leave a lasting impact on the body and can damage it for years before the symptoms start appearing. If left untreated, the condition can lead to disability or heart attack.

Following are some tips to help manage high blood pressure, as provided by Mayo clinic:

  • Regular exercise
  • Shed the excess weight
  • Healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Monitor sodium intake
  • Reduce caffeine consumption
  • Manage stress

Apart from these, previous research has shown the role of meditation and yoga in managing prehypertension, often referred to as borderline high blood pressure.