DES MOINES – Lean pork has the same positive blood pressure benefits as chicken and fish, according to new research presented at the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego, Calif. This means adults on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) can include lean pork as their predominant source of protein in their diet.

For the study, 19 overweight or obese older adults — 13 women and six men — with high blood pressure were randomly assigned to follow the DASH diet for two six-week periods with either chicken and fish, or lean pork as the major protein source — roughly 55 percent of their protein intake. Researchers found that subjects' systolic blood pressure decreased around 8 to 9 points and diastolic around 4 to 5 points after six weeks, based on a 24-hour blood pressure monitoring system.

"The DASH diet has been recognized by government and health organizations as an eating pattern that can promote health and help decrease the risk to chronic diseases," said Dr. Wayne W. Campbell, Nutrition Science Professor at Purdue Univ. and the study's lead author. "While the traditional DASH diet includes chicken and fish, our research suggests that lean pork may also be a part of this healthy eating pattern."

The National Pork Board notes that pork is 16 percent leaner and 27 percent lower in saturated fat compared to 20 years ago. Also, seven cuts of pork meet the US Department of Agriculture guidelines for "lean" by containing less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 gram of meat.

The DASH diet emphasizes increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and typically, fish and chicken along with reduced intakes of sodium and red meats.