NHLBI study finds DASH diet and reduced sodium lowers blood pressure for all

The DASH diet plus reduced dietary sodium lowers blood pressure for all persons, according to the first detailed subgroup analysis of the DASH study results. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The detailed analysis, published in the December 18, 2001, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed the blood pressure lowering effects of the DASH diet and reduced dietary sodium in a wide variety of population subgroups: persons with and without hypertension or a family history of hypertension, older and younger adults, men and women, African-American and other races, obese and nonobese, as well as people with higher or lower physical activity levels, larger or smaller waist circumferences, and higher or lower annual family income or education.

While the combination of the DASH diet and reduced dietary sodium produced the biggest reductions, each intervention also lowered blood pressure for all groups when used alone.

The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy foods and reduced in total and saturated fat . It also is reduced in red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing drinks. It is rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein. Prior studies found that the DASH diet lowers blood pressure and also lowers blood LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and the amino acid homocysteine, which appears to increase the risk of heart disease. Prior studies also showed reducing dietary sodium lowers blood pressure, both with and without the DASH diet.

This new study underscores the blood pressure-lowering effects of a reduced intake of salt and other forms of dietary sodium, said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant. 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 thos

Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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