Health & Wellness

Low-Sodium Plus the DASH Diet Is a Winning Combo

The right diet can help keep your blood pressure down

By Wendy Haaf


If you have either pre- or mild hypertension, changing your eating habits while curbing your sodium intake could lower your blood pressure as much as medication, US researchers report.

In a study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 412 otherwise healthy adults (aged 23 to 79) with these conditions were assigned to either follow the DASH eating plan or more typical North American diet. (The DASH diet—Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension—emphasizes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, poultry and fish.) Participants were also fed three different daily levels of sodium (1,150 mg, 2,300 mg or 3,450 mg) in random order for four weeks at a time. While blood pressure readings dropped as sodium intake fell in both groups, measurements were lowest in the DASH group across all three scenarios. Those whose readings were highest at the study’s start saw the greatest benefit.

On average, Canadians consume 3,400 mg of sodium a day (the equivalent of nearly 1½ teaspoons of salt), with 77% coming from processed foods.

Photos: iStock/LanaSweet (food), turk_stock_photographer (salt).