Toronto: A diet developed for reducing cholesterol also lowers blood pressure, new research has found.
This cholesterol lowering “portfolio diet” included foods that are scientifically-proven to lower cholesterol including mixed nuts, soy protein, plant sterols (found in vegetable oils and leafy vegetables) and viscous fibre (found in oats, barley and eggplant).
When compared with another diet recommended to reduce hypertension, the portfolio diet lowered blood pressure by an average two percent more, the findings showed.
The comparison method, a dietary approach to stopping hypertension, or DASH diet, emphasises fruit, vegetables and whole grains, reduced meat and dairy intake, and eliminating snack food.
"We can now say the dietary portfolio is ideal for reducing overall risk of cardiovascular disease," said the study's lead author David Jenkins, professor of nutritional sciences and medicine at the University of Toronto in Canada.
High blood pressure and cholesterol are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, historically treated with medications.
The new study emphasises on dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce heart disease risk.
"Dietary approaches have been found to be as effective as the starting dose of the average single blood pressure medication," Jenkins explained.
"Overall, research has shown that plant-based diets emphasising foods higher in protein, oil and fibre reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke," Jenkins noted.
The results are based on a secondary analysis of data collected for a 2011 study on the effect of the portfolio diet on cholesterol.
The researchers found that although the DASH diet had higher compliance rates, the portfolio diet was more effective in reducing blood pressure.
The modest, two percent reduction in blood pressure on the portfolio diet was in addition to the five to ten millimetre blood pressure improvement associated with a DASH-type diet.
The study was published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease.