Long-term effects of a plant-based dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods on blood pressure
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OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect on blood pressure of dietary advice to consume a combination of plant-based cholesterol-lowering foods (dietary portfolio). METHODS: For 1 year, 66 hyperlipidemic subjects were prescribed diets high in plant sterols (1.0 g/1000 kcal), soy protein (22.5 g/1000 kcal), viscous fibers (10 g/1000 kcal) and almonds (22.5 g/1000 kcal). There was no control group. Seven-day diet record, blood pressure and body weight were monitored initially monthly and later at 2-monthly intervals throughout the study. RESULTS: Fifty subjects completed the 1-year study. When the last observation was carried forward for non-completers (n=9) or those who changed their blood pressure medications (n=7), a small mean reduction was seen in body weight 0.7+/-0.3 kg (P=0.036). The corresponding reductions from baseline in systolic and diastolic blood pressure at 1 year (n=66 subjects) were -4.2+/-1.3 mm Hg (P=0.002) and -2.3+/-0.7 mm Hg (P=0.001), respectively. Blood pressure reductions occurred within the first 2 weeks, with stable blood pressures 6 weeks before and 4 weeks after starting the diet. Diastolic blood pressure reduction was significantly related to weight change (r=0.30, n=50, P=0.036). Only compliance with almond intake advice related to blood pressure reduction (systolic: r=-0.34, n=50, P=0.017; diastolic: r=-0.29, n=50, P=0.041). CONCLUSIONS: A dietary portfolio of plant-based cholesterol-lowering foods reduced blood pressure significantly, related to almond intake. The dietary portfolio approach of combining a range of cholesterol-lowering plant foods may benefit cardiovascular disease risk both by reducing serum lipids and also blood pressure.