Too much protein won't, by itself, raise your blood pressure, but too much saturated fat can raise blood pressure, cholesterol and your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat is found in all animal proteins, especially well-marbled cuts of beef, pork and lamb and full-fat dairy products. Include both lean animal proteins and plant-based proteins, such as legumes, nuts and seeds that don't contain saturated fat, in your high-protein diet.
Blood Pressure and Diet
Your blood pressure measures the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. The greater the pressure, the harder your heart has to work to circulate blood through your body. Two things increase blood pressure -- added blood volume or narrowing of the blood vessels. A high-sodium diet increases the amount of blood in your system because sodium attracts fluids. A diet high in saturated fat can cause plaque to form along your artery walls, narrowing your arteries. As the circumference of your blood vessels shrinks, your heart has to work harder to force blood through smaller channels.
Cholesterol and Protein
Saturated and trans fats have the greatest impact on your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association warns that foods high in saturated fat also tend to be high in dietary cholesterol, which further increases your risk of heart disease. Foods with the highest levels of fat and cholesterol include fatty beef, lamb, pork, tallow, lard and cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products made from whole milk. Poultry can be high in saturated fat, but removing the skin greatly reduces the amount of fat.
Lowering Your Cholesterol
You don't have to eat less protein to lower your cholesterol and reduce your blood pressure, but you may want to consider eating fish and seafood instead of beef, pork or lamb. Choose lower-fat poultry such as chicken or turkey, instead of duck or goose. Eat more plant-based proteins such as seeds, nuts and legumes, which add fiber to your diet. The Mayo Clinic says that a high-fiber diet can lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. Fiber binds with cholesterol in your digestive tract and stops your body from absorbing it.
Lowering Your Blood Pressure
Minimize your risk for cardiovascular disease by avoiding high blood pressure. Limit saturated fat and trans fats -- not only by limiting fatty animal proteins, but also by avoiding fried foods and commercially baked goods that contain hydrogenated oils -- trans fats. Deli meats and processed meats such as sausages and pepperoni can be high in both fat and sodium -- a double threat to your blood pressure. The quality of your diet will affect your blood pressure, as will the quantity. Watch portion sizes to maintain a healthy body weight. The Cleveland Clinic says that losing weight can lower your blood pressure.
- National Cholesterol Education Program; High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need To Know; June 2005
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fats
- MayoClinic.com; Dietary Fiber -- Essential for a Healthy Diet; November 2009
- Cleveland Clinic: High Blood Pressure and Nutrition
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH