Combining low-sodium and DASH diets dramatically lowers blood pressure in hypertensive adults

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13 Nov 2017 --- A combination of reduced sodium intake and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is effective in lowering the blood pressure of adults with hypertension, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017, a global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

DASH diets are rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with low or fat-free dairy, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts. The DASH dietary pattern is promoted by the US-based National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association to control hypertension. It has been linked to a lower intake of unsaturated fats and easing the painful symptoms of gout. In addition, research has suggested it could lead to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Looking at effects of combining diets
While both low-sodium and DASH diets have been reported to help lower high blood pressure, the study examined the effects of combining the two diets in adults with high blood pressure.

The American Heart Association reports that the study followed 412 adults with systolic blood pressures in four categories: less than 130 mmHg; between 130 and 139 mmHg; between 140 and 159 mmHg; and 150 or higher mmHg. They were either on low-sodium or DASH diets for four weeks.

The researchers’ findings included:

  • Participants who cut their sodium intake had lower systolic blood pressure than adults that had high sodium consumption.
  • Participants who followed the DASH diet but did not reduce their sodium intake also had lower blood pressure than those with similar sodium intake but not on the DASH diet.
  • Participants on the combined diet had lower blood pressure compared to participants with high sodium intake eating their regular diet.
  • The reduction in blood pressure increased with the severity of hypertension, with participants having systolic blood pressure over 150 mmHg showing the most dramatic difference with the low sodium-DASH diet than those not on the diet. More research is needed to determine if the combination diet has the same effect for adults with systolic blood pressure above 160 mmHg.

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