The average age of the participants was 41, and approximately 53% were female. During the study, just over 35% of the participants developed hypertension.

The researchers found that the participants with the greatest variety of protein in their diet had less than half the rate of new-onset hypertension than those with a protein variety score of less than 2.

The total quantity of protein showed a U-shaped curve in relation to hypertension onset. This means that those with the least variety and the most protein intake had the highest risk of new-onset hypertension.

For each type of protein, the researchers identified specific levels where the risk of hypertension is lower.

Dr. Qin told MNT that he was not surprised by the results. “We speculated that consuming greater variety of proteins in proper quantity could guarantee the intake of different essential amino acids, which may correlate with better nutritional status, microbiota richness, and diversity.”

“The heart health message is that consuming a balanced diet with proteins from various, different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help prevent the development of high blood pressure,” Dr. Qin says.


Next steps

Dr. Qin told MNT that future work should include participants of other ethnicities and from other regions. “Randomized trials are needed to further examine the associations between the variety and quantity of protein intake from different food sources and the risks of hypertension and other health outcomes.”

“Moreover, we should further define the appropriate amount of the intake of each protein in different populations.”

Parker added: “To keep your heart healthy, you should focus on eating more fruit, vegetables, fish, pulses, and whole grains and cutting down on foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat, like cake, biscuits, and sweets. Lifestyle factors, such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight, are also important ways to reduce your risk of heart and circulatory diseases.”