Low sodium-DASH diet combination dramatically lowers blood pressure in hypertensive adults – preliminary study results

Low sodium-DASH diet combination dramatically lowers blood pressure in hypertensive adults – preliminary study results



Published: 11/23/17

All of us dietitians and nutritionists are aware that when trying to tackle hypertension, dietary and lifestyle modifications often lead to better results compared to medication. Still, hypertension medication is often seen as a primary solution by both the patients and the medical practitioners.

Popping pills is the most effortless solution for the patient, and also for the doctors describing them. Making lifestyle changes and sustaining the change is much harder, as we know. Adopting new habits doesn’t happen overnight and takes more than just a visit to a pharmacy.

Preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017 highlighted, once again, the importance of lowering sodium intake and adopting healthy eating patterns, among those suffering from hypertension.

As already shown by many earlier studies, participants who cut their sodium intake had lower systolic blood pressure than those adults with high sodium consumption.

This study examined particularly the effects of combining the low sodium and DASH diet in adults with high blood pressure and found that 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.

Moreover, the preliminary results stated that participants who followed the DASH diet, but did not reduce their sodium intake, had lower blood pressure than those with similar sodium intake but not on the DASH diet. This would indicate that the DASH diet alone was able to have a beneficial effect on the participants blood pressure, even if the amount of sodium was not reduced.

For those who are not that familiar with the DASH diet, it was originally developed to lower blood pressure without medication in research sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health. The original DASH diet was relatively high in refined grains and starchy foods, since it was based on the prevailing nutrition "wisdom" of the mid-90s.

The DASH diet has been revised since then, thanks to science and its progress, by cutting back on the "empty carbs" and adding in more protein and heart healthy fats. The heart of the modern DASH diet is an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat and nonfat dairy, along with nuts, beans, and seeds.

The DASH diet is much in line with many of the current national dietary recommendations across the world. Following a dietary pattern like DASH can help tackle not only hypertension, but also many other lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease