Healthier Diet, Less Salt: The Recipe to Beat High Blood Pressure

From Drugs.com - November 12, 2017

Healthier Diet, Less Salt: The Recipe to Beat High Blood Pressure

SUNDAY, Nov. 12, 2017 - Cutting back on salt, along with following the highly recommended "DASH" diet, can beat back high blood pressure in adults, new research shows.

After just a month, the results for people adopting this strategy were "striking and reinforce the importance of dietary changes" for those with problematic blood pressure. So says a team of researchers led by Dr. Stephen Juraschek, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Millions of Americans fight a daily battle with high blood pressure, which can greatly increase their odds for stroke and other heart events.

What's the best dietary strategy to lower those blood pressure numbers?

One key factor that's long been linked to blood pressure is salt (sodium) intake. In the new study, 412 people with high blood pressure (or in danger of high blood pressure) were assigned to one of three daily salt-intake regimens. Some took in about half of a teaspoon of salt per day; some had about a teaspoon of salt per day, while others consumed about 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day.

Current recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration call for a daily limit of about one teaspoon of salt (2,300 milligrams of sodium) per day.

The study participants, who averaged 48 years of age, were also randomly asked to stay on either a "regular" diet or switch to the healthier Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) regimen.

This diet is often recommend by doctors and nutritionists and focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low or fat-free dairy, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts.

The participants' blood pressure averaged 135/86 mm/Hg at the start of the four-week study.

At the end of that time, results varied greatly depending which regimen the person had followed.

For example, for people who continued taking in higher amounts of salt, switching to the DASH diet brought down systolic blood pressure by anywhere from 4.5 to nearly 11 points, with the benefits higher for people who'd started the trial at the highest blood pressures. Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a reading.

The effect was event more robust, however, for people who were on the DASH diet and cut their daily salt intake, Juraschek's team said.


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