The Effect of a Vegan, Plant-Based Diet on Hypertension Open Access Deposited
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Hypertension affects nearly 65 million adults in the United States and is the main risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the current leading cause of death in the U.S. While general recommendations are to increase physical activity and eat a diet low in salt, trans fats, and sugar in order to reduce the risk of hypertension, there is insufficient information on specific diet plans for at-risk patients to follow. In response to this gap in knowledge and the extremely high and steady rates of hypertension and cardiovascular disease throughout the past ninety years, scientists and nutritionists have increased research into different diet options, including the vegan diet, and their effects on heart health. Recent research has found that the inclusion of any animal flesh, and particularly red and processed meats, in a diet is strongly correlated with hypertension. In contrast, fruits and vegetables have high concentrations of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, while nuts are low in sodium and high in fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants; all of these factors are known to reduce hypertension. Recent research suggests that the vegan diet, unique in its exclusion of all animal products, offers optimal chemical properties to help reduce the risk of hypertension. Although more research is needed in this emerging field, the evidence compiled so far points to the vegan diet as both a possible preventative solution and a possible treatment plan for the major public health crisis of hypertension and associated heart disease.