What’s the best diet to lower blood pressure?

A recent study found that the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet was the best.

Medical Dialogues reports that a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that the DASH was better in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels among adults with hypertension or prehypertension, compared with usual care or other nonpharmacologic interventions.

Low-sodium and high-potassium salt intake, aerobic exercise, isometric training, comprehensive lifestyle modification, breathing control, and meditation were also superior strategies for managing blood pressure, compared with usual care, according to the findings.

Another article in JAMA points out:

Hypertension [is] a worldwide problem of enormous consequence. High blood pressure affects more than 1 billion people worldwide, and that number is increasing.

Untreated or uncontrolled, hypertension is the single largest contributor to cardiovascular disease, causing stroke, heart failure, and coronary artery disease, and also is a major contributor to kidney disease.

An article in AFP adds:

Hypertension is one of the most common conditions encountered in primary care. Nonpharmacologic strategies have been shown to help lower blood pressure.

Lifestyle modifications are recommended for all patients with hypertension. The American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology lifestyle management guideline recommends:

  1. a diet emphasizing vegetables, fruits, and whole grains;
  2. limiting sodium intake to less than 2,400 mg per day; and
  3. exercising three or four times per week for an average of 40 minutes per session.
  4. Other nonpharmacologic strategies include
    1. weight loss,
    2. tobacco cessation,
    3. decreased alcohol consumption,
    4. biofeedback, and
    5. self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
  5. For patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the use of continuous positive airway pressure has been shown to improve blood pressure.
  6. Dietary supplements such as garlic, cocoa, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium have been suggested for lowering blood pressure, but evidence is lacking.

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