Dr Keith Souter writes: Whether it is for heart or bowel health, or to reduce the risk of cancer or diabetes a balanced diet is the important thing.
Research from China just published in the major medical journal Hypertension suggests that a balanced diet including protein from a greater variety of sources may help lower the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
When it is left untreated, it is a major risk for heart attacks and strokes.
It is also well known that there is a strong correlation between poor diet quality and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death from heart attacks and strokes.
In this study health information was analysed for nearly 12,200 adults living in China who were included in the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015. Surveys were conducted every two to four years.
The average age was 41 years and there was almost equal numbers of males and females.
The average individual was followed up over six years.
They measured dietary intake on three consecutive days using a household food inventory.
A trained interviewer collected the information and every participant was given a food variety score. This was based on the number of different sources of protein eaten out of eight types.
These were, whole grains, refined grains, processed red meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, egg and legumes.
One point was given for each source of protein, with a maximum variety score of eight.
The researchers then compared the association for new onset hypertension in relation to the protein variety score. They found that more than 35 per cent of the participants had developed hypertension during the six years of follow up.
Compared to participants with the lowest variety score for protein intake, less than two sources, those with the highest variety score had a 66 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure.
They concluded that a balanced diet with proteins from various different sources, rather than focusing on a single source of dietary protein, may help to prevent high blood pressure.