In case you haven’t heard the news yet, the guidelines for high blood pressure have recently changed. According to the new guidelines from the American Academy of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, anyone with a reading of 130/80 mm Hg is now considered to have stage 1 hypertension.
In the past, that diagnosis was reserved for people whose readings were 140/90. This means that millions of adults who fall between 130/80 and 139/89 became hypertensive — literally overnight! It also places them at risk of being prescribed a risky blood pressure-lowering medication.
Eat Your Way to Lower Blood Pressure
One of the healthiest diets available to you is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. It’s rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. But until recently, the effects of this diet on blood pressure have not been reported.
Now, a new analysis appearing the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has revealed some incredible news. The research team recruited 412 patients with blood pressure readings between 120 and 159 mm Hg systolic, and between 80 and 95 mm Hg diastolic. Then they placed the participants on the DASH diet or a typical American diet (control group) for 12 weeks.
The researchers then added a little twist to the study. In addition to the diets, the participants also received 50, 100 or 150 mmol of sodium a day in random order. (This equals out to 1,150 mg, 2,300 mg, and 3450 mg of sodium respectively.)
Additionally, all of the participants were grouped based on their baseline systolic blood pressure (SBP). The four groups consisted of:
- <130 mm Hg
- 130 to 139
- 140 to 149
Guess how the results turned out?
DASH Diet Effects Comparable to Those of Blood Pressure-Lowering Meds
When the researchers compared the participants’ blood pressures, they discovered some staggering results.
When the DASH diet was combined with low sodium intake, participants’ systolic blood pressures dropped considerably more compared to those on the control/low sodium diet.
Compared to the control group SBP dropped…
- 5.3 mm Hg in the <130 group
- 7.5 mm Hg in the 130-139 group
- 9.7 mm Hg in the 140-149 group
- 20.8 mm Hg in the ≥150 mm Hg group
Take a look at that last number, and you’ll be as amazed as study author Stephen Juraschek, M.D., who said, “This is outstanding, it’s huge.” That’s because the results suggest that those at highest risk for serious hypertension actually achieve the greatest benefit from a low-sodium DASH diet.
“What we’re observing from the combined dietary intervention is a reduction in systolic blood pressure as high as, if not greater than, that achieved with prescription drugs,” says senior study author Lawrence Appel, M.D., M.P.H. “It’s an important message to patients that they can get a lot of mileage out of adhering to a healthy and low-sodium diet.”
High blood pressure redefined for first time in 14 years: 130 is the new high. Press Release. American Heart Association. Nov 2017.
Juraschek SP, et al. Effects of Sodium Reduction and the DASH Diet in Relation to Baseline Blood Pressure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Nov 4. pii: S0735-1097(17)41098-9.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Low-salt, heart-healthy dash diet as effective as drugs for some adults with high blood pressure.” ScienceDaily. 22 November 2017.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”