Diet for lowering blood pressure may act as a diuretic

May 20, 2003 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Diet for lowering blood pressure may act as a diuretic

A low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables may lower blood pressure by acting as a diuretic, say Japanese and U.S. researchers.

The American Heart Association and U.S. government have for years recommended the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet as a way to lower blood pressure without taking drugs, but it has not been clear how it works.

Now researchers say they've concluded the diet's high mineral levels can help the body get rid of excess salt -- just as diuretics do. Diuretics are commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure. The diet might even prevent the development of high blood pressure.

Writing in the journal Circulation, published by the American Heart Association, Japanese resear5cher said they took a closer look at a study that showed the blood pressure benefits of the DASH diet were greatest among people who ate the most salt. They analyzed information from about 375 adults with normal or slightly elevated blood pressure. Participants ate either a DASH diet or a more typical diet.

Over 90 days the researchers varied how much salt each patient ate and took blood pressure measurements and urine samples.

The DASH diet is rich in potassium and calcium, both of which can help the body excrete salt. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommended this month that most patients with simple high blood pressure try diuretics first and add other drugs as needed.

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