Researchers suggest that people with high blood pressure or hypertension can substantially lower their systolic blood pressure by following a low-salt diet combined with a DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The DASH diet is a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as fat-free dairy, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, followed and tested 412 adults out of which 234 were women. They ranged between the ages of 25 and 76 years and were known to have a systolic blood pressure of 120-159 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure between 80-95 mm Hg.
None of the participants was taking hypertension regulating drugs or insulin, and no one had a prior diagnosis of heart disease, renal insufficiency, or diabetes.
They were put on the DASH diet for three months. In this time, the participants were also fed 50, 100 or 150 (millimoles) mmol of salt per day in random orders. 100 millimoles of sodium per day equate to a teaspoon of salt. This is the maximum daily sodium intake recommended under the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
After four weeks, researchers found that people who had a baseline systolic blood pressure of 150 mm Hg or higher, dropped 11 mm Hg pressure compared to a 4 mm Hg reduction in those who were only of the DASH diet.
The combined diet, however, revealed improved results. Participants who had a baseline systolic blood pressure of less than 130 mm Hg dropped 5 mm Hg after following the DASH diet and a low sodium intake for 4 weeks. This was compared to those who had a high-sodium diet combined with the DASH diet.
Stephen Juraschek, the study’s lead author, notes how the study establishes the equal effect of a dietary intervention to that of antihypertensive drugs.
“What we’re observing from the combined dietary intervention is a reduction in systolic blood pressure as high as, if not greater than, that achieved with prescription drugs.” He states.
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