Adding a variety of proteins to your diet can lower the risk of high blood pressure

Almost half of adults in the United States — about 47% — have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke and other conditions.

A new study published in the American Heart Association’s Hypertension Journal suggests a diet with a more diverse selection of proteins can dramatically reduce high blood pressure.

Drawing on the China Health and Nutrition Survey, a multi-decade collaboration between the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of North Carolina Population Center that has tracked health outcomes from around 12,000 adults, this new study found that changes in diets reduced hypertension decreased drastically. For those who sourced protein from various sources, the study found even larger reductions, with some participants moving out of the high blood pressure category all together.

So exactly which sorts of proteins are best for reducing hypertension? One of the most important takeaways from the study is that not all proteins offer the same health benefits, which is why it’s important to consume a wide variety of protein-rich foods.

Here are a few food options that are not only high in protein, but have additional health benefits.

Frozen shrimp

Shrimp is an excellent source of protein. It also has a great protein-to-calories ratio, with a 3-oz. serving of shrimp providing 22 grams of protein, but just 60 calories.

Somewhat surprisingly, dietitians generally recommend frozen shrimp over fresh, as the amount of sodium is much lower.

Plant-based meat alternatives

The rise of plant-based meat alternatives from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods has been a game changer. Both products are relatively high in protein — Beyond Meat products generally have 10-20 grams per serving, while Impossible products have at least 11 grams per serving — but have much lower calorie counts and lower amounts of fat and cholesterol compared to real meats.

These meat alternatives are increasingly found on restaurant menus too, making it easier to eat healthier outside of the home. Beyond Meat products can be found at TGI Fridays and at Disney Theme Parks, while Impossible Foods are found at restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, Burger King and Starbucks.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt — both plain and flavored — offer anywhere from 13-20 grams of protein per serving. Whether you enjoy it as a snack in a parfait or as a substitute for sour cream, it’s a great way to get extra protein in a low-calorie food.

Powdered peanut butter

This might sound weird, but powdered peanut butter is known to help curb cravings. Even better, just two tablespoons of it contains anywhere from 8-10 grams of protein depending on the brand. Adding powdered peanut butter to shakes or when baking adds a little more flavor and a lot more protein.


Tofu is the classic source of protein for vegetarians and anyone else interested in getting their protein without that fat and cholesterol found in meat products. One 3-oz. pack of tofu has an astonishing 85 grams of protein. You can bake it, grill it and fry it in many different recipes.

Tofu’s fermented cousin, tempeh, is a great alternative for those who find tofu a bit squishy.

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