Study Finds DASH Diet, Reduced Sodium Lower Blood Pressure in All. (Research Notebook)
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and limited in total and saturated rats, plus reduced dietary sodium, lowers blood pressure levels in all people, according to a new analysis of a government-sponsored study.
The diet also limits red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing drinks. It is rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Prior studies have found that besides blood pressure, the DASH diet lowers blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol, and the amino acid homocysteine, both of which may increase the risk of heart disease. Earlier research also has found that reducing dietary sodium alone lowers blood pressure.
The latest analysis showed that the DASH diet plus reduced dietary sodium lowers blood pressure in a wide variety of people, including those with and without hypertension or a family history of hypertension, older and younger adults, men and women, blacks and other races, and obese and non-obese individuals.
In addition, the combination lowered blood pressures in people with high or low physical activity levels, large or small waist circumferences, and high or low annual family incomes or education levels.
"This new study underscores the blood pressure-lowering effects of a reduced intake of salt and other forms of dietary sodium," says NHLBI Director Claude Lenfant, M.D. "Earlier research on the link between sodium and blood pressure had given conflicting results in various population groups. Now, we can say that cutting back on dietary sodium will benefit Americans generally and not just those with high blood pressure. …