Purpose of review: Despite a considerable amount of research, the blood pressure (BP) lowering effect of dietary proteins is still not fully established. This review discusses the most recent findings on BP lowering of dietary proteins and protein sources, the possible mechanisms and the safety of increasing protein intake.
Recent findings: Recent short-term, strictly controlled, randomized clinical trials show a BP lowering effect of increased protein intake. Longer-term trials, however, show inconsistent results. Because all recent trials exchanged carbohydrates, and not fats, for proteins, the question remains whether potential beneficial effects of high protein diets are due to increased protein intake or decreased carbohydrate intake. No clear differences between plant protein and animal protein are found in observational studies, and trials comparing plant versus animal protein are lacking. Different protein sources may lower BP via different mechanisms, which might explain divergent findings. Potential harms of high protein diets are not confirmed in recent trials in healthy persons.
Summary: Increasing dietary protein intake or decreasing carbohydrate intake within reasonable limits may be beneficial for BP. The most and least beneficial protein sources still need to be determined.